Search and Seizure: US Supreme Court to Decide Warrantless Search Case

The US Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case that could clarify limits on when police using an informant may enter a residence. The case is Pearson v. Callahan (07-751), in which five members of the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force are being sued by a man whose home was searched without a warrant after an informant bought methamphetamine inside.

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US Supreme Court
In 2002, a snitch working with the task force bought $100 worth of meth from Afton Callahan inside Callahan's trailer in Fillmore, Utah. Once the officers waiting outside received the snitch's signal via wire that the deal had gone down, they entered and searched the trailer and arrested Callahan for sale and possession of meth.

Callahan moved to have the evidence suppressed because a warrantless search is unconstitutional, but a state court trial judge rejected that motion. Callahan then agreed to a conditional guilty plea while appealing the Fourth Amendment issue. A state appeals court later agreed with him and overturned his conviction.

Callahan then turned around and sued the task force members for violating his Fourth Amendment rights. The officers then argued that they were immune under the doctrine of "qualified immunity," which holds that government officials cannot be held liable for violating a law that was not clear at the time. A federal district judge, Paul Cassell, ruled in 2006 that the police were entitled to immunity, even if the search was unconstitutional, but the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver overruled Cassell, holding that the Constitution was so clear on the need for a warrant that no reasonable police officer would have proceeded without one.

Lawyers for the police officers then appealed to the US Supreme Court, which will have to decide both the search and the immunity questions. But despite what the 10th Circuit held, the federal courts are divided on whether a warrant is necessary in those circumstances. Some federal circuits -- but not the 10th -- have created the strange notion of a "consent-once-removed" exception to the Fourth Amendment. Under that theory, someone who consents to the entry of an undercover police informant is also consenting to the entry of police as well -- even if he doesn't know it. Because the resident gives permission to the snitch to enter, he has also given permission for the police to enter, this novel doctrine holds.

Now, the US Supreme Court will decide if there will be yet one more addition to the holes in the Fourth Amendment created by the drug war. And whether police who conduct unconstitutional searches will have to pay for them.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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oh my this is what we have

oh my this is what we have been waiting for. the constitution has been relegated the the annuls of history, all in the name of keeping us safe from ourselves. From the way the court seems to want to scew this, the expectation of needing a warrent for the search of personal property is not relevent to drug users and others that have been labeled as devients. Why not dress up a cop as a door to door salesman and after they have been allowed in they can do as they please. What a great way to combat terrorism i am suprised that home land security didnt think this up.

if you think that this rant is alarmest then ponder this. There is a well know addendem to the fourth that says with probable cause the need for a warrent is null. they sent a officer that had no drugs when he or she went in and when they come out the do. Sounds like probable cause to me. Why then the use this particular reasoning to punch yet another hole in each of our civil rights?

fear the goverment

Probable Cause

There is a well know addendem to the fourth that says with probable cause the need for a warrent is null.

To whom is this "well known"?  According to the Fourth Amendment, probable cause is a prerequisite for obtaining a search warrant, not a substitute for a search warrant.

Big Brother wants in your Rights

If the police want to plea lack of general knowledge of laws. What going to stop them from breaking the laws. Let alone civil rights. Or gee wizz I forgot. Not for our portection, (but Big Brother portection).

The Law and Law Enforcement

So in essense we have Law Enforcement Officers who admit they don't know the law. Disturbing. Correct me if I'm wrong, shouldn't the Police have meticulous knowledge and understanding of what is lawful and unlawful? How the fuck can the uphold the law if they don't know what it is? Unless they just plead ignorance to it whenever they're in violation of it. But if you ever get pulled over, I'll bet money that cop can quote at least 10 reasons and/or precedents as to why it's lawful for him to search you and your vehicle.

Prohibitionists remain antagonistic to a free society!

Ask any law enforcement official which domestic situation they'd prefer to avoid:

1) An individual or group high on liquid drugs... alcohol?
2) An individual or group high on marijuana?

Does anyone really doubt which drug has the statistically higher ratio of violence & death... even though marijuana smokers face much harsher penalties... including longer prison terms and forfeiture of assets... a drunk person would have to kill somebody to perhaps warrant such justice!

Suggest the following to any prohibitionist, or their legions of stooges & enforcers, and they'll try to kill or incarcerate you... and never mention their intellectual terrorism or they'll sympathetically proclaim you another poor 'paranoid delusional'... another victim of Satan's smoke... in desperate need of the type of compassion & rehabilitation that only an overcrowded massive prison system can provide!

Suggest that the 1st drug war, the Prohibition against 'liquid intoxicants' (the drug of choice of our European immigrants and ancestors... also the original 'gateway drug' ) which officially started in 1919 with the 18th amendment came about exactly the same way as the 2nd drug war, the Prohibition against marijuana... amazingly fast political actions by a radical Progressive Prohibition Movement (PPM)... how fast a responsible & vigilant citizen may wonder... less then 6 hours and no prior committee meetings!

If you're not immediately arrested or shot for your Gnostic rants, or hedonistically libertine crimes against their children and society at large, perhaps because your 'accusers' find you amusing.... like a cat with a wounded mouse or bird... they'll allow you to continue with your conspiracy theories.

EXCEPT... your lawyers sage advice starts to become audible through the cognitive dissonance dissipating inside your newly numbed skull... previously drowning out rational thought and hampering critical thinking (professionals commonly refer to this as 'caveman mode')... he's screaming at you to 'ZIP IT' --- because your 'accusers' will use everything you say and they make up against you, etc, etc...!

Most cops are unwilling stooges of the current Progressive Prohibition Movement! Cops are given great discretionary powers and it's unwise to provoke someone who may be and/or act sympathetic. However, zealot sects like the DEA are trained to react violently against 'druggies', however peaceful, however responsible, even vital, to their existence.

Facts confuse and threaten prohibitionists, and, they should fear the wealth of information and knowledge the few libertarian minded among us possess... not to mention the criminal implications the equally illegal 2nd drug war carries! If only we could get the justice dept to do it's job and strike down illegal laws... as it did when it struck down the 1st drug war in 1933.

I believe it's also long past time to start holding those responsible... accountable... for their serious crimes ... regardless of title or stature... had the supreme court held the PPM responsible for their crimes in 1933 when they repealed drug prohibition... we wouldn't be fighting these dangerous delusional criminals now!

But the fundamentalist PPM remains alive, newly energized, and enabled today thanks to her immortal allies: fear, ignorance, certitude, copious amounts of hypocrisy, and the heavy hand of the police state... so beloved by moralists and the purveyors of gods & governments!

Prohibitionists remain antagonistic and dangerous to a modern egalitarian society... their delusions, desperations, paranoia's, pretenses, and proclamations make them more deceitful, disgusting, and criminal then ever.

Billy B. Blunt
Tacoma, WA

our rights are depleting

everywhere you look the government is stealing our rights. we can't even raise our families anymore. the government is causing our families to become seperated. we can't even medicate with an herb that can be traced throughout christianity, or we'll be locked up. we need to take our country back the government is supposed to be our marters not our captores. everone needs to make themselves heard.

What about that all too

What about that all too common passage that officers seem to love to recite: Ignorance of the law is NO excuse? Does that apply to lay persons only? When you travel state to state, we are suppose to know what we can or can't do, while we are in their state, But they don't even have to know the laws in their state. Give me a break!......Pa..lease!

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