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Opening Arguments

Oops -- busted anwyway.

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear an interesting case that tests the limits on exceptions to the Constitution's unreasonable search & seizure provisions. East Chicago police went to the wrong apartment when searching for a suspect and arrested the man in the apartment when they found cocaine there. A Lake County court ruled the officers' entry was legal, and the Court of Appeals upheld the decision (ruling detailed here). My layman's guess is that the Supreme Court will also rule in favor of police. Here's the Cornell University Law School on exceptions to the warrant requirement:

Officers can also search and seize objects on a person if the officer has placed the person under arrest. This exception extends to situations in which the police in good-faith mistakenly arrest the wrong suspect and seize contraband during the search. If a suspect, either during a traffic stop or otherwise, makes a furtive gesture, the gesture justifies a limited warrantless police intrusion.

Courts overturn bad-faith searches and seizures not just to protect the rights of the individual suspects involved but to discourage such behavior by police in the future. But police here seemed to have acted in good faith, and their mistake led to a legitimate bust.


Bob G.
Wed, 10/07/2009 - 12:02pm

Works for me, too!

ANY officer can routinely run a (outstanding) warrant check for ANY individual (remember that next time you get pulled over for speeding or running a red light).
You might get a free ride in a police car!

Technology that actually works...who'da thuink?


Wed, 10/07/2009 - 5:58pm


We're talking about search warrants for specific addresses Bob. Not warrant checks.

The problem is that police can just claim a "mistake" whenever they want to bust down any door they like... and who'll hold them accountable?

We've even seen Indy police claim they couldn't properly read a home's address because it was "a cloudy day." The kind of excuse you wouldn't accept from a lazy kid who didn't do his homework - and yet we let it go when paramilitary raids are involved.

Bob G.
Thu, 10/08/2009 - 8:42am


MY dad was pulled over and checked when a car that "looked like his" was involved in a hit and run...(wasn't dad).
One could argue wrongful "search", but that would get tossed out of court.

Many times, dispatch will advise (on scene) *if* the person whose ID is being checked DOES have any outstanding "14"s on their sheet.
And you can hear that on the scanner anytime.

If officers go to a wrong address, they could still have dispatch do an ID check on the residents, providing they have proper ID (you'd be surprised iow many never seem to carry any).

And after that wrong address break in back in the 1980s, that made national headlines (and had a telemovie made about it) police are under CLOSE scrutiny.

If the wrong address happens to be a stash house, or a gang hideout...what do you do..just leave and tell everyone "have a nice day"?
The court case would be a nigthmare for the D.A.

Let me ask you this...if you had a drug house operating in YOUR neighborhood, and the police kicked in their door, thinking it was ONE house, when it was REALLY a wrong address...would you take the police to task, or thank them for making YOUR neighborhood safer for you and your kids?

It's never as "easy" or cut and dry as a lot of folks think.
We're all human, and CAN all make mistakes.

I do see your point, nonetheless.

Thu, 10/08/2009 - 2:24pm

We're not even talking about warrant checks, Bob. That's all beside the point, and has nothing to do with *search* warrants. Why do you insist on prattling on about ID checks and arrest warrants?

The end doesn't justify the means. We can't let go of that. So take your hypotheticals elsewhere. The point is, these wrong door raids have become frequent enough that they've become part of the "isolated incident" joke over at the Agitator. Your statement about "close scrutiny" would also be part of the same joke.

Thu, 10/08/2009 - 2:40pm

Ah, here it is. (You'll note this is from JUNE OF THIS YEAR. 2009. BTW, did you catch that interactive map Balko did of wrong door raids, 1985-2008? Only several hundred, since that movie you talked about.)


"Officers were trying to serve a warrant for a man wanted on drug charges. The address listed on the paperwork was 4042. The Minton

Bob G.
Sat, 10/10/2009 - 9:33am

See, we didn't have that problem in philly...houses were CONSECUTIVELY numbered... (even numbers on one side of the street...odd on the other).

But here in the heartland, whoever numbers the plots of property has NO CLUE about anything consecutive.

My street is a perfect example.

The numbers don't even "skip" in any order...
You go from 02...to 04, 14, 16, 36...sounds like a Menses question (which number comes NEXT?)

Add to that that many people don't even DISPLAY the house number, but given the satellite GPS tech now anailable, getting a "property" number (as issued by the city or county) WRONG should be all but impossible.
(I'm just sayin')

Someon in Marion Cty. screwed up BIG it would seem.

Sat, 10/10/2009 - 6:25pm

Um, Bob G., I think you might mean a "Mensa" question. If "menses" is involved, chances are the police might just come back another day. Like maybe next week...

Bob G.
Sun, 10/11/2009 - 6:11pm


ROFLMAO...wow, talk about a Freudian slip...!!!

What WAS I thinking?
(sorry...it's a "missus" thing this week...lol)

Thank you VERY much for setting the record (and ME) straight!