Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Destiny and the 4th Amendment

Rarely have a seen a shocking a headline as "Bill of Rights puts limits on searches" byy the Deseret Morning News--shocking as in dumbfounded that people are so dumb. On the local Fox affiliate this morning, they acted as if the Deseret News had a breaking, innovative angle on the whole mess. I was assuming there would be more factual details about the police's attempts to search the home of the alledged killer.

Instead, it was Criminal Procedure/Constitutional Law 101. I should have expected as much from the morning show crew at Fox News. Prof. Luna, whom I did some pro bono work for, was explaining to the paper that the police can't ransack through everyone's home just because. The only thing we learned is that the alledged kidnapper /agravated murder didn't give police permission to search his house. Of course, you can't use the lack of permission to get a warrant. The only thing Luna said that made this case a close case is that there might be a "exigent circumstances" exception to the Fourth Amendment. Of course, the court hasn't decided if a search for missing child is exigent enough to exempt Fourth Amendment requirements. "Luna estimated that had police argued for a warrant citing the exigent circumstance of a missing child, the warrant would have likely gone to the Utah Supreme Court — taking weeks if not years." Not very exigent any more if it takes years to resolve. This is probabbly why the Court has not yet ruled on the issue.

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