Block on Trump's Asylum Ban Upheld by Supreme Court
If you are the officers in this situation, what do you do? The Sixth Circuit's Judge Sutton, in a light-hearted opinion, suggested using Google Maps -- sorry, but there's no street view for either address -- or checking to see which side of the street had odd-numbered houses.
Instead, the officers went to the house that appeared occupied. The lady who answered the door promptly slammed it in their faces. When the door was eventually re-opened, the officers declared that they had a warrant for "this address."
Except they didn't. They had a warrant for the house across the street, which was the real 3171. Instead of finding Phyllis, they found freebase, a.k.a. cocaine. Lots of it. The homeowner, Steven Shaw, was arrested, charged, and pleaded guilty to cocaine possession charges, leading to a sentence of 126 months in prison.
Was this a reasonable search and seizure?
The court took issue with the 50/50 guess that prompted the initial encounter. The officers tried offering other reasons why the search was reasonable, which the court rejected:
The majority opinion can be summed up as this: Officers' laziness will not excuse the violation of Shaw's Fourth Amendment rights.
The dissent on the other hand felt that the honest mistake was a good enough reason to uphold the conviction and warned, "My colleagues raise the bar by creating an impossible and unique standard for the Fourth Amendment: because the officers got it wrong and "could have" done more to get it right, the Fourth Amendment is violated and the exclusionary rule applies. This absolutist approach is naive and contrary to the Constitution. If accepted by our circuit, it will devastate practical law enforcement."
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