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News from the Director

Two Significant Fourth Amendment Cases Decided in June 2006
June 22, 2006

In the past week, the United States Supreme Court decided two significant Fourth Amendment cases, both of which will impact our practice. In Hudson v. Michigan, the Court held that the exclusionary rule does not apply to evidence seized by the police following a knock-notice violation; evidence found by the police after they have unlawfully entered the defendant’s home may be admitted at his criminal trial. The Court reasoned that the “considerable” social costs of excluding the evidence (e.g. allowing dangerous criminals to go free) outweighed any potential deterrence benefits. Hudson, decided on June 15, 2006, is a five-to-four opinion. The majority opinion was authored by Justice Scalia, and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito. Justice Kennedy filed a concurring opinion. Justice Breyer wrote the dissent, and he was joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Ginsberg. For a detailed analysis of Hudson v. Michigan, click here.

In the second case, Samson v. California, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit a police officer from conducting a suspicionless search of a parolee; individualized reasonable suspicion is not required. The Court essentially affirmed the holding of the California Supreme Court, in People v. Reyes (1998) 19 Cal. 4th 743 and the constitutionality of California Penal Code section 3067(a) (requiring released parolees to agree in writing to be searched by a parole or police officer without a warrant or reasonable cause). In upholding the reasonableness of a suspicionless parole search, The Court balanced a parolee’s “substantially diminished” expectation of privacy against the government’s legitimate interest in monitoring parolees to prevent recidivism. The Court reasoned that a parolee has a lesser expectation of privacy than a probationer, but more than an incarcerated prisoner. Samson, decided on June 19, 2006, is a six-to-three opinion. The majority opinion was authored by Justice Thomas, and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsberg and Alito. Justice Stevens wrote the dissent, joined by Justices Souter and Breyer. (Check back soon in the Fourth Amendment area of the FDAP Criminal Articles and Outlines page for further analysis of Samson v. California.)

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