Jackson, Miss. (Jan. 6, 2023) – A bill filed in the Mississippi House would end the use of “no-knock” warrants in most situations. Passage would also set the foundation to nullify several Supreme Court opinions in practice and effect.
On Jan. 4, Rep. Zakiya Summers (D) filed House Bill 102 (HB102). The legislation would require police serving a search or arrest warrant to “give appropriate notice of the identity, authority and purpose of the officer to the person to be searched or arrested, or to the person in apparent control of the premises to be searched.”
Additionally, the bill requires that officers read a copy of the warrant of the person to be arrested or place searched. If no one answers, the officer “shall leave a copy of the warrant suitably affixed to the premises.” However, there is no authorization for forced entry in that situation.
In Mississippi, no-knock warrants are often the standard, rather than the exception. A report in ProPublica noted, for example, that “most search warrants issued in Greenville were no-knock warrants, which allow law enforcement to barge into someone’s home unannounced.” The report also found that most such warrants were kept hidden from the public record.
Nullifying the Supreme Court
Passage of HB102 would effectively nullify and make irrelevant several Supreme Court opinions that give police across the U.S. legal cover for conducting no-knock raids.
In the 1995 case Wilson v. Arkansas, the Supreme Court established that police must peacefully knock, announce their presence, and allow time for the occupants to open the door before entering a home to serve a warrant. But the Court allowed for “exigent circumstance” exceptions if police fear violence, if the suspect is a flight risk, or if officers fear the suspect will destroy evidence.
As journalist Radley Balko notes, police utilized this exception to the fullest extent, “simply declaring in search warrant affidavits that all drug dealers are a threat to dispose of evidence, flee or assault the officers at the door.”
The SCOTUS eliminated this blanket exception in Richards v. Wisconsin (1997) requiring police to show why a specific individual is a threat to dispose of evidence, commit an act of violence or flee from police. But even with the opinion, the bar for obtaining a no-knock warrant remains low.
“In order to justify a ‘no-knock’ entry, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence, under the particular circumstances, would be dangerous or futile, or that it would inhibit the effective investigation of the crime by, for example, allowing the destruction of evidence.” [Emphasis added]
Reasonable suspicion is an extremely low legal bar to meet. Through this exception, police can justify no-knock entry on any warrant application. In effect, the parameters in the SCOTUS ruling make no-knock the norm instead of the exception.
A third Supreme Court ruling effectively eliminated the consequences for violating the “knock and announce” requirement even without a no-knock warrant. In Hudson v. Michigan (2006), the High Court held that evidence seized in violation of knock and announce was not subject to the exclusionary rule. In other words, police could still use the evidence in court even though they technically gathered it illegally.
Significantly, were it not for the dubious “incorporation doctrine” made up by the Supreme Court based on the 14th Amendment that purportedly empowers the federal government to apply the Bill of Rights to the states, these cases would have never gone to federal court and we wouldn’t have these blanket rules.
Without specific restrictions from the state, police officers generally operate within the parameters set by the High Court. By passing restrictions on no-knock warrants, states set standards that go beyond the Supreme Court limits and in effect, nullify the SCOTUS opinion.
HB102 has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, where it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
- Wyoming Committee Passes Bill to Prohibit State Enforcement of Federal Red Flag Laws - February 23, 2024
- Louisiana Senate Passes Permitless Carry Bill - February 23, 2024
- New Hampshire House Committee Passes Bill to Prohibit Credit Card Codes to Track Firearms Purchases - February 19, 2024