Supremes to Victims of Wrong House Searches: Deal With It

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by jgullock, May 22, 2007.

  1. jgullock

    jgullock Active Member

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    http://reason.com/blog/show/120331.html


     
  2. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    I did considerable reading on this reversal of the 9th Circuit yesterday. Over at Volokh there is an extensive discussion with many comments. My initial reaction to this case is to be angry that innocent people in their bed were rousted by the police and held naked. Upon further reading, the police had a valid warrant for the previous owners of the premises, which had recently been sold. They did not request a nighttime warrant, so thus appeared only after 7:00 am. They did knock and announce, and they waited for the door to be opened. They did not ransack the place, but after they discovered their error they apologized and departed. Their total time in the home was < 15 minutes. The people were naked in bed and were allowed to cover themselves shortly (2-3 minutes). The question here was whether these officers should be held personally financially liable for damages to these folks in a court of law. This conduct bears no resemblance at all to the Johnson story here in Atlanta and many more like it around the country. It was not malicious. Did these officers do everything they could to research change in ownership? No. Their last surveillance was a couple months old. Still, they did it by the book and the court found in their favor. If I were these people, I would be really angry. The way to deal with this one is politically. Show up at every council meeting and tell your story repeatedly until you get some satisfaction. Go the papers and the TV stations. Request meetings with the Chief and record his answers. Stand in front of the residences of the officers holding signs stating your case until they come out and give you satisfaction. Buy a highway billboard (being mindful of libel) and put their pictures on it. This outcome does not give one much satisfaction, but I do believe it was right. If we hold officers personally financially liable every time a good-faith mistake is made or a case doesn't end in conviction, we're not going to have many officers.
     

  3. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

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    #-o

    wtf were they thinking?!

    Who was the one holdout?
     
  4. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    There was no holdout. It was a per curiam opinion on the merits of the legality of the search and did not reach the qualified immunity. Stevens wrote a concurrence, with which Ginsburg joined, that would have overturned the case on qualified immunity, not on the legality of the whole affair. Souter would deny the petition altogether (which I guess one could view as half-hearted dissent). This even came as the reversal of a 2-1 unpublished 9th Circuit opinion. The 9th Circuit is chastised for their failing to make this one published. The Supremes love to slap them around.
     
  5. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

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    lame....I wonder why it was per curiam.
     
  6. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    An extra-special backhand to the 9th. It's sort of the Supremes version of torturing the cat.
     
  7. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

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    There is a difference between going to the wrong house and going to a house with a valid warrant. There are checks that most agencies use to verify residence, but I can see where they would have missed a house that had just been sold.

    It does seem like they would have realized something was up once they got into the house though.
     
  8. S&W 40

    S&W 40 Active Member

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    I might be missing some of the point but why did they not have more surveillance a day or two prior to the warrant. Ensure what is going on, be sure they are home not on vacation, have a undercover watch the house the day/night prior. Just seams wrong to have used two month old data for a search later.

    Ok we are going to serve this warrant and just go rolling up, no one home the whole neighborhood now knows what is going on and someone is friends will talk, little chance at a good second try then.

    Just my :2cents:
     
  9. Tinkerhell

    Tinkerhell Active Member

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    I agree with Kkennett.
    If the guys were only there 15 minutes & they had the right house and were let in... not much you can do about that. Teach your kid not to let cops in the house (though they had a warrant so I guess they were coming in anyway)
    Cops see all kinds of things. Seeing me & John Thomas standing blocking the view of my exposed wife would certainly be embarrassing and would result in me getting tossed to the ground or worse if they wouldn't let her stay wrapped in a sheet but it's not a $6.5 million dollar suit or anything.

    I will say that it seems odd that they could have surveillance on a place & decide that someone is committing ID theft from a given location and then discontinue surveillance for a several month long period of time then come back with a warrant and cause this kind of commotion. I'm no leo, trial lawyer or judge. Is that normal? I would think you would keep a place under watch basically until such time as you were ready to move in on the BGs. I might even think some kind of slap to those responsible for the warrant would be in order to encourage them to NOT let that kind of thing happen in the future.
     
  10. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    The opinion makes clear that no one challenged, thus they're not ruling on the validity of the warrant, just the legality of the brief detention, albeit naked. The opinion even seems to puzzle at that. Perhaps a challenge on the information in the warrant being stale would have yielded better results, but that is not what the plaintiff's argued. I agree that the lack of recent surveillance could be an issue.

    Another thing: The reason they went in guns drawn anyway was because one of the suspects had a registered handgun. They did knock and announce. I question whether warrants served for non-violent crimes like identify theft need to have guns drawn absent any actual threat. At least in GA the lack of any gun registry wouldn't have played out this way.
     
  11. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

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    You raise a point that I missed on my first read. I'm shocked that a judge signed a warrant on two-month old information unless there was something current in the investigation.
     
  12. GeorgiaGlocker

    GeorgiaGlocker Romans 1:16

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    Re: Supremes to Victims of Wrong House Searches: Deal With I

    Now that is scary!
     
  13. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

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    Who needs due diligence when you have an M4 and the authority to kill innocents with impunity? Certainly not SWAT teams.

    Hooray for State sanctioned murdering! SWAT For The Win!
     
  14. GeorgiaGlocker

    GeorgiaGlocker Romans 1:16

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    Ramm, have you ever thought of pushing the limits?
     
  15. S&W 40

    S&W 40 Active Member

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    I believe Ramm is at/near/past/or just teasing us with the limits. 8)
     
  16. Dan H

    Dan H New Member

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    I like ramms style...
     
  17. S&W 40

    S&W 40 Active Member

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    What are limits for a 20 something getting ready to grad from college???

    We don't need no steenking badges


    We don't need no steenking limits
     
  18. CoolHand

    CoolHand Active Member

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    Ummm a magistrate judge can sign a warrant I believe. The ones I've met are not lawyers and not particularly bright or necessarily skilled at their job. They are politically appointed in GA. There's a big stink in my county right now because ours hired her dad as an assistant magistrate judge without letting the county commision know about the hiring and it really screwed up the budget. Well that and he got fired from his assistant magistrate judgeship by the previous chief magistrate for incompetence.

    I guess this makes the forum antijudiciary as well as antiLEO now. :shock:
     
  19. Mastino177

    Mastino177 Member

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    I've got a question for you...

    What if one night your in bed asleep or not...and suddenly you hear your front door knock down...maybe they yell police, maybe not...what would be your reaction? Engage targets or go face down?

    With the actions of some thugs using fake police badges, shirts, jackets, etc. one should ask themselves this. After all, you know that you are from top to bottom legal in your everyday living. There have been several incidences like this and it turns out that it's not the po-po's...its thug life and his crew and bad things happen to your family.
     
  20. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

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    The chief magistrate judge in each county is elected. Magistrate judges deal with questions of probable cause for arrest and search warrants as well as handling some things like evictions and bad checks. They do not have to have law degrees in GA. IIRC, probate court judges in GA don't have to be lawyers either. Probate can be a little tricky, but basically a magistrate judge just needs common sense. You're going to get good and bad in any collective group of people.