November 15, 2006
IN THE MAIL: (Actually, delivered by a colleague) Otis Stephens' and Richard Glenn's Unreasonable Searches and Seizures: Rights and Liberties Under the Law -- plus a copy of the Encyclopedia of American Civil Rights and Liberties.
And, in sort-of-related news, the 9th Circuit, per Kozinski, upheld a six figure damage award against police for 4th Amendment violations. An excerpt from the opinion:
The facts are remarkable. Plaintiff, Susan Frunz, and her two guests were in Frunz’s home in Tacoma, Washington, when police surrounded the house, broke down the back door and entered. The police had no warrant and had not announced their presence. Frunz first became aware of them when an officer accosted her in the kitchen and pointed his gun, bringing the barrel within two inches of her forehead. The police ordered or slammed the occupants to the floor and cuffed their hands behind their backs—Frunz for about an hour, until she proved to their satisfaction that she owned the house, at which time they said “never mind” and left.
These no-knock raids are a pet peeve of mine, and I'm glad to see some hefty damage awards. In light of the facts, in fact, this seems quite minimal. Such "dynamic entries" should be limited to cases where there's solid reason to believe that someone's life may be in danger, which was clearly not the case here.