Hudson v. Michigan
547 U.S. 586; 126 S. Ct. 2159, 165 L. Ed.2d 56 (2006)

  • The police went to Hudson’s home with a valid search warrant to look for drugs and guns.
  • The police officer knocked on the door, said, “Police! Search Warrant” and then waited 2-5 seconds before entering Hudson’s house.
    • Inside they found Hudson, other people, and a bunch of drugs and guns.
  • Hudson was arrested and charged with drug possession.
  • At trial, Hudson argued that the police violated the knock-and-announce requirement, and therefore all evidence stemming from the search warrant should be inadmissible.
    • The knock-and-announce requirement goes way back to English common law and says that the police must announce their presence and wait a reasonable amount of time for the homeowner to open the door before breaking it down.
      • See Semayne’s Case (5 Co. Rep. 91a, 91b, 77 Eng. Rep. 194, 195 (K. B. 1603)), which says, “before he breaks it, he ought to signify the cause of his coming, and to make request to open doors, for the law without a default in the owner abhors the destruction or breaking of any house (which is for the habitation and safety of man) by which great damage and inconvenience might ensue to the party, when no default is in him; for perhaps he did not know of the process, of which, if he had notice, it is to be presumed that he would obey it.”
      • There are exceptions to the knock-and-announce rule, including situations where the police have reason to believe that evidence is being destroyed, that someone is in physical danger, or if it would be futile because no one is home.
    • The prosecutor admitted that the police failed to follow the knock-and-announce requirement.
  • The Trial Judge granted the motion to suppress. The prosecution appealed.
  • The Appellate Court reversed the motion to suppress.
    • The Appellate Court relied on several Michigan Supreme Court cases which said that suppression is inappropriate when entry is made pursuant to warrant but without proper knock-and-announce.
  • The Trial Court found Hudson guilty of drug possession. He appealed.
  • The US Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court and found that the evidence was admissible.
    • The US Supreme Court found that the exclusionary rule is not appropriate for violations of the knock-and-announce requirement.
      • The Court found that the exclusionary rule is designed to protect the 4th Amendment right against illegal search and seizure.
      • The knock-and-announce requirement has nothing to do with the right of privacy, instead, it protect police officers from surprised residents retaliating in presumed self-defense, to protect private property from damage, and to protect the “privacy and dignity” of residents.
        • Basically, it is supposed to give you time to put your pants on if the police come to your door.
        • The knock-and-announce rule is not designed to protect evidence.
        • The Attenuation Doctrine says that if there is evidence found way down the line from illegally excluded evidence, it can still be admissible and doesn’t have to be excluded as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” In this case, the Court extended the Attenuation Doctrine to cover procedural errors.
  • In a dissent it was argued that the exclusionary rule is the main deterrent to stop illegal police behavior. If the police know that the evidence will not be excluded, what is their incentive to comply with the knock-and-announce requirement?
    • The Court suggested that other deterrent mechanisms, like civil lawsuits, are available.
    • The dissent noted that the police can get a no-knock warrant if they show cause. So why not make them?