Supreme Court Rules Against Defendants In Search, Asset Seizure Cases


The Supreme Court delivered two blows against criminal suspects yesterday, limiting constitutional protections for people who want to keep police out of their homes and denying defendants a chance to contest seizure of assets intended to pay for an attorney, reports the Wall Street Journal. In a 6-3 opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled that police can enter properties with multiple residents without first obtaining a search warrant from a court if one person living there consents after officers have removed another resident who objects. The case came from Los Angeles. The three women justices–Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, dissented.

In a separate 6-3 ruling, the court affirmed the government’s ability to freeze a criminal defendant’s assets before trial, ruling against a former sales representative for a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary who wanted to free up funds for a lawyer. Writing for the court, Justice Kagan said defendant Kerri Kaley wasn’t entitled to a pretrial hearing on the forfeiture, because a grand-jury indictment already had found probable cause to believe that she and her husband had stolen medical devices to sell on the black market. “They have no right to relitigate that finding,” she wrote, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

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