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Vol. 41 No. 3 May / June 2012
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Highlights of This Issue

Special Bulletin

  • Drug Cases Are No Automatic Justification for No-Knock Execution of Search Warrants

United States Supreme Court Action

  • Invasive Searches of Arrestees Entering Detention Facilities Are Permissible Without Reasonable Suspicion
  • Prosecution Investigator Entitled to Absolute Immunity for Grand Jury Testimony
  • Private Individuals Temporarily Hired by Government for Public Duties Such as Investigation of Employee Misconduct Are Entitled to Qualified Immunity

Federal and State Decisions

  • Arrest, Search and Seizure Issues: search warrant; good faith exception; thermal imaging warrant; electrical usage data; warrantless search; cell phone telephone number; consensual encounters; contraband in plain view; investigative detentions; reasonable suspicion; race element; stop and frisk; evasive conduct; probation condition; going under clothing before a pat down; vehicle stops; 911 calls; reliability; consent; automobiles; prying open interior door panels; right to privacy; trash cans
  • Interrogation Issues: Miranda; false confessions; expert testimony; voluntariness; Miranda violations; impeachment purposes
  • Crimes; Evidence; Trial Procedure: automobile speed detection; constitutionality; resisting police; validity of underlying arrest; traffic cameras; evidence admissibility; police defendant; perjury; false trial testimony
  • Civil Liability/Personnel Law: false arrest; probable cause; qualified immunity; consulting a prosecutor; excessive force; tackling non-resisting person; domestic violence case; stun gun; mentally disturbed person; failure to prevent suicide; creating a “mess” in executing a search warrant for drugs; dismissal of police cadet; name-clearing hearing; political discrimination; discipline and discrimination; “professional courtesies”


    Special Bulletin
    United States Supreme Court
    Federal and State Decisions

Special Bulletin

Special Bulletin: Search Warrant; Execution; No-Knock; Drug Cases
Bishop v. Arcuri, No. 11-50010 (5th Cir. 2012)

Based on a confidential informant’s tip that methamphetamine was being sold from a house, a detective obtained a search warrant and, with his team, performed a no-knock entry with a bettering ram. The search turned up nothing. This could be the basis for a civil rights action against the officers and the city. The court held the disposable nature of meth and the general prevalence of evidence destruction in drug cases are not, in themselves, sufficient to justify a no-knock entry, nor are safety concerns based merely on the general dangerousness of drug dealers.

“The Supreme Court has rejected the contention that the execution of all drug-related search warrants inherently pose a substantial risk of evidence destruction. Richards [v. Wisconsin, 520 U.S. 385 (1997)], 520 U.S. at 394; see also United States v. Washington, 340 F.3d 222, 226 (5th Cir.2003). Arcuri’s reliance on the disposable nature of methamphetamine and a general assertion about the prevalence of evidence destruction in drug cases is hardly distinguishable from the blanket rule, rejected by a unanimous Court in Richards, that knocking-and-announcing is never required when executing a search warrant in a felony drug investigation. Moreover, in applying Richards we have previously held, in a case with similar underlying facts involving the nighttime execution of a narcotics search warrant at a home while the residents were present, that it was ‘clear that the [no-knock] search of [the] residence was unreasonable under Fourth Amendment analysis.’ United States v. Cantu, 230 F.3d 148, 153 (5th Cir.2000). We rested that conclusion in part on the fact that the officers ‘were unable to point to anything [aside from some movement within the home] that would indicate that evidence was being destroyed.’ Id. at 150.”

“Arcuri also argues that his team’s no-knock entry was justified by his reasonable suspicion that announcing their presence would have put them in danger. Arcuri concedes, however, that his safety concerns were based on generalities about the dangerousness of drug dealers. . . .”

“In sum, neither Arcuri’s concerns for evidence preservation nor for officer safety amounted to reasonable suspicion based on particular facts, so exigent circumstances did not justify his team’s no-knock entry of Appellants’ home. The entry therefore violated Appellants’ Fourth Amendment rights.”


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