Supreme Court backs warrantless police home entry in emergency

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday ruled that police can enter a home without a warrant when they have not knocked or announced their presence if they have an objectively reasonable basis to believe that someone inside the home has been seriously injured or there is an imminent threat of injury. In Brigham County v. Stewart [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], four police officers in Brigham County, Utah, entered a home without a warrant screaming "Police!" when they observed a violent situation unfolding between household members through a window. They had tried to get the attention of the occupants before entering to no avail. Four adults arrested were all charged with misdemeanors - disorderly conduct, intoxication, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The Utah Supreme Court ruled that the evidence should be suppressed [opinion text], but the US Supreme Court reversed this decision Monday, holding that the officers had a reasonable basis for entering the home without knocking or announcing their presence. Read the Court's unanimous opinion [text], per Chief Justice Roberts, along with a concurrence [text] from Justice Stevens. AP has more.

The Court did not grant certiorari in any new cases Monday, and among the cases the Court declined to hear was a challenge to the lethal injection [JURIST news archive] method of execution used by several states. Last month, the Court heard arguments in Hill v. McDonough [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report] where Hill, a death row inmate, is seeking to challenge the constitutionality of Florida's method of lethal injection under 42 USC 1983 [text] even when all his other appeals have been exhausted. The Court is only considering the procedural issue in that case, and in denying certiorari in Abdur'Rahman v. Bredesen, the Court has refused to review whether the three-drug cocktail used by several states constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment because it causes unnecessary pain and suffering. SCOTUSblog has more.



 

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