Newsbrief: Federal Appeals Court Rules Police Can Search Without Warrant 4/2/04

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

In a March 24 opinion, the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has ruled that police do not need an arrest or search warrant to conduct a search if the search is a "protective sweep" to ensure the safety of officers. The ruling builds on a 1990 US Supreme Court ruling, Maryland v. Buie, which gave the constitutional okay to "protective sweep" searches conducted to ensure the safety of officers during an arrest. Under the 5th Circuit's ruling in USA v. Gould, such searches may be legally made without a search warrant or an arrest.

The ruling came in the case of Kelly Donald Gould, a Denham Springs, Louisiana, resident arrested in October 2000 on federal firearms charges. According to court documents, an employee of Gould's contacted law enforcement authorities to report that Gould was threatening to kill judges and police and he possessed weapons. Upon receiving the report, police checked Gould's criminal record and found he had a history of violent criminal offenses. Sheriff's deputies went to Gould's trailer without a warrant to question him and were invited in by another occupant who told them Gould was in his bedroom. But Gould was not there. The deputies, saying they feared for their safety, looked for him under his bed and in two closets, where they found three rifles. Shortly afterward, they found Gould outside in the woods. He was arrested, charged, and convicted as a felon in possession of a firearm based on the rifles found by the deputies.

Gould moved to have his conviction overturned, arguing that the evidence against him derived from an illegal search. A US district judge agreed, and so did a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit. But that panel urged prosecutors to request a hearing before the full court to take up the question. Prosecutors did, and they won an 11-4 victory on March 24.

Evidence found in a "protective sweep" search designed to protect officers' safety inside a building or home they have entered legally (with consent) is admissible if it is only a "cursory inspection," the 5th Circuit held. The right of privacy must yield to the compelling government interest of protecting police officers, the court said.

A spokesman for the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Associated Press the decision was dangerous. "This decision is the latest rollback of safeguards to protect the people from being at the mercy of a police state," said Joe Cook, the group's executive director. "Allowing law enforcement to search homes without probable cause or any warrant makes a dramatic and dangerous departure from one of our most fundamental American freedoms."

It wasn't just civil libertarians who were concerned. Two of the dissenting judges harshly criticized the ruling. "I have no doubt that the deputy sheriffs believed they were acting reasonably and with good intentions," Judges Harold DeMoss Jr. and Carl E. Stewart wrote, noting that the heart of the Fourth Amendment was its protection of the rights of citizens to be free from unwarranted searches. "But the old adage warns us that 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.'"

Read the decision online at:
http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/02/02-30629-CV0.wpd.pdf

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #331, 4/2/04 Show Cause Hearing for David Borden and David Guard's Civil Disobedience to Take Place This Morning | DRCNet Interview: Floro Tunubalá Paja, Former Governor of the State of Cauca, Colombia | Meth Panic Mantra: Save the Children | Czech Party Seeks Move to US-Style Drug War Policy | DRCNet Press Coverage | Medical Marijuana Advocate Confronts Congressional Opponent at House Hearing | Newsbrief: Federal Appeals Court Rules Police Can Search Without Warrant | Newsbrief: Addicts Take Prescription Heroin for Safety, Stability -- Not to Quit, Study Finds | Newsbrief: Another Safe Injection Site in British Columbia? | Newsbrief: Drugged Driving Bill Introduced in Ohio | Newsbrief: DUID -- Pass It and They Will Prosecute | Newsbrief: Who's Minding Your Utility Bill? | This Week in History | Job, Grant and Internship Opportunities with MPP | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]