Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Interesting Supreme Court Arguments

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in a couple of very interesting criminal cases. The first was Kentucky v. King, an appeal from a ruling of the Kentucky Supreme Court excluding evidence obtained when the Lexington, Kentucky police broke down the wrong door while chasing a fleeing felon. The facts of that case are straightforward, the police chased a suspect into an apartment building where they lost sight of him. There were only two doors into which he could have gone. They approached the wrong door, claimed to smell burning marijuana, knocked and claimed to hear sounds as if someone was "destroying evidence." They broke the door down and observed marijuana being smoked.

The Kentucky Supreme Court held the search to be illegal and suppressed the evidence. Kentucky appealed to the U.S. Supremes. From reading about the argument (wouldn't it be nice if they televised these?), it seems like Kentucky will win and yet another of our protections against illegal search and seizure will go away.

The second is Sykes v. United States, which presents the issue of whether fleeing from the police in a motor vehicle after being ordered to stop is a "violent felony" for sentence enhancement purposes under the Armed Career Criminal Act. Seems kind of a no-brainer that it isn't. Running away seems calculated to prevent violence.

You can read more about these cases here.


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