Monday, February 26, 2007

11th Circuit--warrant requirement coughs once, dies.

The 11th Circuit has just rubber stamped officer-created exigent circumstances in the case of Glover v. Eight Unknown DEA Agents, 06-13061 (11th Cir., Feb. 23, 2007. Here are the facts of the case, straight from the court's opinion:

[T]he agents attempted to secure a search warrant for Glover’s residence on the suspicion that he was operating a clandestine methamphetamine lab there. The magistrate judge determined that the agents lacked sufficient evidence to merit a warrant. So the agents arranged to have a confidential source enter Glover’s house on the pretense of delivering a tank of anhydrous ammonia he had ordered.

. . .

The source was wired and agents were monitoring the situation, ready to raid the alleged lab if necessary. In their affidavits, the agents state that after entering Glover’s residence, the source started coughing and complaining of chemical fumes over the wire. Glover claims that he never heard any coughing but admits that the source went upstairs to use the bathroom. Fearing the source was being exposed to noxious chemicals, the agents entered Glover’s house and made the arrest.

After pleading guilty to drug charges, Glover filed a section 1983 civil suit, claiming that his 4th Amendment rights were violated in the raid. The trial court gave summary judgment to the defendant agents and the 11th Circuit affirmed the decision, explaining that the agents’ entry into the home was justified by the exigent circumstances doctrine, since they feared that their source’s life was in danger due to the noxious chemicals inside the house.

So: all government agents need to do to justify a search now is cough once into the microphone. Source: Decision of the Day

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