U.S. Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Michigan ACLU Case Next Term
DETROIT – The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear a Michigan case raising the question of whether the courts should suppress evidence seized by the police when they unlawfully enter a home without first knocking and announcing their presence. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is representing the homeowner, Booker T. Hudson.
“It’s undisputed that the police violated the Fourth Amendment by barging into Mr. Hudson’s home without ‘knocking and announcing’,” said David A. Moran, Assistant Professor at Wayne State University Law School and the ACLU cooperating attorney who will argue the case before the Court. “The question is whether evidence should be suppressed in order to deter the police from violating the ‘knock and announce’ requirement.”
Detroit police broke into Hudson’s home without knocking and announcing in 2000. Once inside, the police found a small quantity of drugs and arrested Hudson for possession for which he was placed on probation for eighteen months. Despite the knock and announce violation, Mr. Hudson's motion to suppress the evidence found in his home was denied because of a 1999 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that evidence found after a "knock and announce" violation was not subject to suppression.
In a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas writing for the Court, stressed that the "knock and announce" requirement protects the dignity of residents by allowing them a reasonable time to make themselves presentable before the police enter, and the requirement also protects private property by allowing a resident an opportunity to open his or her door instead of having the doors destroyed by a police battering ram.
"As a result of the Michigan Supreme Court's ruling, police in Michigan have virtually no incentive to comply with the knock and announce requirement," said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director. "The Michigan Supreme Court's position on this issue encourages police to violate constitutional rights with impunity."
This issue has been disputed in courts across the country, but the Michigan Supreme Court position has been rejected by the highest state courts in Arkansas and Maryland and by the Sixth and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeal. The Michigan Supreme Court's holding has been embraced by only the Seventh Circuit.
Oral argument in Hudson v. Michigan will be held in December or January, and a decision is expected by June 2006. Professor Moran also served as the ACLU of Michigan Cooperating Attorney in the Supreme Court case decided last week guaranteeing poor criminal defendants the right to a lawyer on appeal.
To see the petition asking the Supreme Court to hear Hudson v. Michigan, go to: http://aclumich.org/sites/default/files/file/pdf/hudsonpwc3.pdf
To read the reply brief, go to: http://aclumich.org/sites/default/files/file/pdf/hudsonbop.pdf