The Supreme Court held an unusual mid-May oral argument over a drug-search case that had apparently split the court 4-4 after the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor this year. Timothy Baughman, a Detroit prosecutor, argued that a Michigan court was correct in refusing to exclude from Booker Hudson’s trial drugs the police found when they executed a search warrant by bursting into his home without knocking or waiting for him to open the apparently unlocked door, reports the New York Times.
This means of entry violated the “knock and announce” rule that Supreme Court precedents have made part of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable search and seizure. “A child of 2,” Justice Stephen Breyer told the prosecutor, would know that the officers’ sudden entry made it more likely that they would find the incriminating evidence. To admit evidence found in these circumstances at trial would be “to let a computer virus loose in the Fourth Amendment,” he said. Justice Samuel Alito, who might break a tie in the case, asked questions of the defendant’s lawyer that suggested sympathy for the state’s position. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. appeared firmly in the state’s camp.