There was a robbery of a cab driver outside a hotel, and the suspect fled into the hotel. Hotel security could see him go to the fifth floor and followed. On the fifth floor, he wasn’t seen, but two men were talking loudly in a room and hotel security knocked. Nobody came to the door and it got quiet. The security person returned to the lobby. When police arrived, he took them to the room. The police entry into the room, while a close question, was with exigent circumstances because of the possibility that he holed up in a room of somebody else and had them hostage. He wasn’t the renter of the room. Finally, to be an abandonment, disclaiming ownership of property seized by the government has to occur before the search not after. United States v. Ojonugwa, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57777 (N.D. Tex. April 23, 2013):
The Government argues that exigent circumstances existed in this case because the officers believed a suspect in a violent assault was in room 527, and they did not know whether he was armed and a danger to other guests of the hotel. In response, Ojonugwa contends that there were no exigent circumstances because there was no threat to safety since the suspect was inside the hotel room, the officers were not in hot pursuit, and law enforcement had no belief or reason to believe that the suspect would, or even could, flee before a warrant could be obtained.
The Court finds that the officers' entry into room 527 was based on the presence of exigent circumstances. Several of the officers, including Officer Cazelle, testified that they were concerned that the suspect did not belong in room 527 and could potentially have harmed other guests in the hotel. Gordon testified that he was concerned for the safety of hotel guests, knowing that a man had harmed someone near the hotel property and then ran into the hotel in the early morning hours. The fact that at least four armed police officers quickly arrived on the scene in the early morning evidences the officers' serious concern for the safety of hotel guests. The evidence reveals that the officers did not know whether the suspect was armed and whether he was authorized to enter room 527. The occupants' failure to allow entry into the room after Gordon and the police officers repeatedly knocked reasonably caused officers to be concerned about risks to the occupants of room 527 and guests of the hotel. The Court further notes that the officers would likely have experienced a delay in obtaining a warrant between 3 and 6 a.m. on a Saturday during which time a possibly armed suspect in a violent assault could have injured occupants of room 527 and other guests. Walls between the hotel rooms would not have protected other guests had the suspect been armed and fired a weapon.
Admittedly, the question of exigent circumstances is a close one. ...
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"If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn't, and they don't."
"Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government."
—Shemaya, in the Thalmud
"A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays
down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its
application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect
results, especially if one's attention is confined to the particular case at
bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping
government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having
and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that
the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and
safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced."
—Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev'd Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).
"The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing
can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws,
or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence."
—Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.
—Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).
"There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that
bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the
police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater
than it is today."
— Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).
"The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their
—Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)
"It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have
frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And
so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his
case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth
—United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)
"The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated
here, has not–to put it mildly–run smooth."
—Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).
"A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the
bottom of a turntable."
—Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)
"For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly
exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth
Amendment protection. ... But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in
an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected."
—Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)
“Experience should teach us to be most on guard to
protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born
to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded
rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men
of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
—United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)
“Liberty—the freedom from unwarranted
intrusion by government—is as easily lost through insistent nibbles by
government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose
it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark.”
—United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)
"You can't always get what you want /
But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need."
—Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
"In Germany, they first came for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for
the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came
for me–and by that time there was nobody left to speak up."
—Martin Niemöller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]
“You know, most men would get discouraged by
now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men!”
—Pepé Le Pew
"There is never enough time, unless you are serving it."
"The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime."
—Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 13-14 (1948)