Supreme Court upholds admissibility of evidence taken in unannounced home search

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] handed down four decisions Thursday, including Hudson v. Michigan [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report] where the Court held 5-4 that evidence collected under a search warrant is admissible even when police officers failed to knock before entering a home. The Court upheld a Michigan court ruling [PDF text] which determined that evidence seized during a search of Booker Hudson's home should have been admitted at trial. Police officers with a search warrant entered Hudson's home without first knocking and only after waiting three to five seconds after announcing their presence. The Michigan appeals court ruled that the evidence collected should have been admitted under an exception to the normal "knock and announce" rule because the evidence would have inevitably been discovered. The Court first heard arguments [JURIST report] in the case in January, but reheard the case in May to break a tie when Justice Samuel Alito replaced retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Court. Read the Court's majority opinion [text] per Justice Scalia along with a concurrence [text] from Justice Kennedy and a dissent [text] from Justice Breyer, who was joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg. AP has more.

In Kircher v. Putnam Funds Trust [Duke Law case backgrounder], the Court held that a federal court of appeals does not have jurisdiction to review a lower court order remanding to state court a lawsuit removed to federal court under the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1988 because the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Souter along with a concurrence [text] from Justice Scalia.

In Howard Delivery Service v. Zurich American Insurance [Duke Law case backgrounder], the Court held that insurance carriers' claims for unpaid workers' compensation premiums owed by an employer are not entitled to priority status under Section 507(a) [text] of the US Bankruptcy Code. In the case, Zurich filed an unsecured creditor's claim after Howard filed for bankruptcy and sought to establish priority status as a creditor, reasoning that the unpaid premiums could be characterized as a "contribution to an employee benefit plan." The Court ruled, however, that the premiums should be treated the same as other liability insurance premiums. Read the Court's majority opinion [text] per Justice Ginsburg, along with a dissent [text] from Justice Kennedy, who was joined by Justices Souter and Alito.

In the final decision handed down Thursday, the Court ruled 5-4 in Empire Health Assurance v. McVeigh [Duke Law case backgrounder] that federal question jurisdiction does not exist over a suit by a federal government contractor to enforce a provision in a health benefits plan for federal employees that is part of a government contract established pursuant to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act. The Second Circuit found no federal question jurisdiction [opinion, PDF] in the case, where Empire sued for reimbursement of insurance benefits paid under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program [OPM materials], ruling instead that the issue was a matter of state law which ordinarily governs insurance issues. Read the Court's majority opinion [text] per Justice Ginsburg, along with a dissent [text] from Justice Breyer, who was joined by Justices Kennedy, Souter and Alito.

 

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