Hudson v. Michigan 547 U.S. 586, 126 S. Ct. 2159 (2006), No. 04-1360f

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtScalia
Citation126 S. Ct. 2159,547 U.S. 586
PartiesBOOKER T. HUDSON, JR., Petitioner v. MICHIGAN
Decision Date15 June 2006
Docket NumberNo. 04-1360f

547 U.S. 586

126 S. Ct. 2159

BOOKER T. HUDSON, JR., Petitioner


No. 04-1360f


January 9, 2006, Argued

June 15, 2006, Decided

David A. Moran argued and reargued the cause for petitioner.

Timothy A. Baughman argued and reargued the cause for respondent.

David B. Salmons argued and reargued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of court.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part IV, in which Roberts, C. J., and Thomas and Alito, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, post, p.____, Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined.



[547 U.S. 588] [126 S. Ct. 2162] Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part IV.

[126 S. Ct. *LEdHR1A] LEdHN[1A][1A] [126 S. Ct. *LEdHR2A] LEdHN[2A][2A] We decide whether violation of the "knock-and-announce" rule requires the suppression of all evidence found in the search.


Police obtained a warrant authorizing a search for drugs and firearms at the home of petitioner Booker Hudson. They discovered both. Large quantities of drugs were found, including cocaine rocks in Hudson's pocket. A loaded gun was lodged between the cushion and armrest of the chair in which he was sitting. Hudson was charged under Michigan law with unlawful drug and firearm possession.

This case is before us only because of the method of entry into the house. When the police arrived to execute the warrant, they announced their presence, but waited only a short time--perhaps "three to five seconds," App. 15--before turning the knob of the unlocked front door and entering Hudson's home. Hudson moved to suppress all the inculpatory evidence, arguing that the premature entry violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

The Michigan trial court granted his motion. On interlocutory review, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed, relying [547 U.S. 589] on Michigan Supreme Court cases holding that suppression is inappropriate when entry is made pursuant to warrant but without proper "'knock and announce.'" App. to Pet. for Cert. 4 (citing People v. Vasquez, 461 Mich. 235, 602 N.W.2d 376 (1999) (per curiam); People v. Stevens, 460 Mich. 626, 597 N.W.2d 53 (1999)). The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. 465 Mich. 932, 639 N.W. 2d 255 (2001). Hudson was convicted of drug possession. He renewed his Fourth Amendment claim on appeal, but the Court of Appeals rejected it and affirmed the conviction. App. to Pet. for Cert. 1-2. The Michigan Supreme Court again declined review. 472 Mich. 862, 692 N.W.2d 385 (2005). We granted certiorari. 545 U.S. 1138, 125 S. Ct. 2964, 162 L. Ed. 2d 886 (2005).


[126 S. Ct. *LEdHR3A] LEdHN[3A][3A] [126 S. Ct. *LEdHR4A] LEdHN[4A][4A] The common-law principle that law enforcement officers must announce their presence and provide residents an opportunity to open the door is an ancient one. See Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927, 931-932, 115 S. Ct. 1914, 131 L. Ed. 2d 976 (1995). Since 1917, when Congress passed the Espionage Act, this traditional protection has been part of federal statutory law, see 40 Stat. 229, and is currently codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3109. We applied that statute in Miller v. United States, 357 U.S. 301, 78 S. Ct. 1190, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1332 (1958), and again in Sabbath v. United States, 391 U.S. 585, 88 S. Ct. 1755, 20 L. Ed. 2d 828 (1968). Finally, in Wilson, we were asked whether the rule was also a command of the Fourth Amendment. Tracing its origins in our English legal heritage, 514 U.S., at 931-936, 115 S. Ct. 1914, 131 L. Ed. 2d 976, we concluded that it was.

[126 S. Ct. *LEdHR3B] LEdHN[3B][3B] We recognized that the new constitutional rule we had announced is not easily applied. Wilson and cases following it have noted the many situations in which it is not necessary to knock and announce. It is not necessary when "circumstances presen[t] a threat of physical violence," or if there is "reason to believe that evidence would likely be destroyed if advance notice were given," id., at 936, 115 S. Ct. 1914, 131 L. Ed. 2d 976, or [126 S. Ct. 2163] if knocking and [547 U.S. 590] announcing would be "futile," Richards v. Wisconsin, 520 U.S. 385, 394, 117 S. Ct. 1416, 137 L. Ed. 2d 615 (1997). We require only that police "have a reasonable suspicion . . . under the particular circumstances" that one of these grounds for failing to knock and announce exists, and we have acknowledged that "[t]his showing is not high." Ibid.

[126 S. Ct. *LEdHR4B] LEdHN[4B][4B] When the knock-and-announce rule does apply, it is not easy to determine precisely what officers must do. How many seconds' wait are too few? Our "reasonable wait time" standard, see United States v. Banks, 540 U.S. 31, 41, 124 S. Ct. 521, 157 L. Ed. 2d 343 (2003), is necessarily vague. Banks (a drug case, like this one) held that the proper measure was not how long it would take the resident to reach the door, but how long it would take to dispose of the suspected drugs--but that such a time (15 to 20 seconds in that case) would necessarily be extended when, for instance, the suspected contraband was not easily concealed. Id., at 40-41, 124 S. Ct. 521, 157 L. Ed. 2d 343. If our ex post evaluation is subject to such calculations, it is unsurprising that, ex ante, police officers about to encounter someone who may try to harm them will be uncertain how long to wait.

[126 S. Ct. *LEdHR1B] LEdHN[1B][1B] [126 S. Ct. *LEdHR2B] LEdHN[2B][2B] Happily, these issues do not confront us here. From the trial level onward, Michigan has conceded that the entry was a knock-and-announce violation. The issue here is remedy. Wilson specifically declined to decide whether the exclusionary rule is appropriate for violation of the knock-and-announce requirement. 514 U.S., at 937, n. 4, 115 S. Ct. 1914, 131 L. Ed. 2d 976. That question is squarely before us now.



[126 S. Ct. *LEdHR1C] LEdHN[1C][1C] In Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, 34 S. Ct. 341, 58 L. Ed. 652, T.D. 1964 (1914), we adopted the federal exclusionary rule for evidence that was unlawfully seized from a home without a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment. We began applying the same rule to the States, through the Fourteenth Amendment, in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 81 S. Ct. 1684, 6 L. Ed. 2d 1081 (1961).

[547 U.S. 591] Suppression of evidence, however, has always been our last resort, not our first impulse. The exclusionary rule generates "substantial social costs," United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 907, 104 S. Ct. 3405, 82 L. Ed. 2d 677 (1984), which sometimes include setting the guilty free and the dangerous at large. We have therefore been "cautio[us] against expanding" it, Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 166, 107 S. Ct. 515, 93 L. Ed. 2d 473 (1986), and "have repeatedly emphasized that the rule's 'costly toll' upon truth-seeking and law enforcement objectives presents a high obstacle for those urging [its] application," Pennsylvania Bd. of Probation and Parole v. Scott, 524 U.S. 357, 364-365, 118 S. Ct. 2014, 141 L. Ed. 2d 344 (1998). We have rejected "[i]ndiscriminate application" of the rule, Leon, supra, at 908, 104 S. Ct. 3405, 82 L. Ed. 2d 677, and have held it to be applicable only "where its remedial objectives are thought most efficaciously served," United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 348, 94 S. Ct. 613, 38 L. Ed. 2d 561 (1974) --that is, "where its deterrence benefits outweigh its 'substantial social costs,'" Scott, supra, at 363, 118 S. Ct. 2014, 141 L. Ed. 2d 344 (quoting Leon, supra, at 907, 104 S. Ct. 3405, 82 L. Ed. 2d 677).

We did not always speak so guardedly. Expansive dicta in Mapp, for example, suggested wide scope for the exclusionary rule. See, e.g., 367 U.S., at 655, 81 S. Ct. 1684, 6 L. Ed. 2d 1081 ("[A]ll evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by that same authority, inadmissible in a state court"). [126 S. Ct. 2164] Whiteley v. Warden, Wyo. State Penitentiary, 401 U.S. 560, 568-569, 91 S. Ct. 1031, 28 L. Ed. 2d 306 (1971), was to the same effect. But we have long since rejected that approach. As explained in Arizona v. Evans, 514 U.S. 1, 13, 115 S. Ct. 1185, 131 L. Ed. 2d 34 (1995): "In Whiteley, the Court treated identification of a Fourth Amendment violation as synonymous with application of the exclusionary rule to evidence secured incident to that violation. Subsequent case law has rejected this reflexive application of the exclusionary rule." (Citation omitted.) We had said as much in Leon, a decade earlier, when we explained that "[w]hether the exclusionary sanction is appropriately imposed in a particular case . . . is 'an issue separate from the question whether the Fourth Amendment rights of the party seeking [547 U.S. 592] to invoke the rule were violated by police conduct.'" 468 U.S., at 906, 104 S. Ct. 3405, 82 L. Ed. 2d 677 (quoting Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 223, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527 (1983)).

[126 S. Ct. *LEdHR1D] LEdHN[1D][1D] [126 S. Ct. *LEdHR5A] LEdHN[5A][5A] In other words, exclusion may not be premised on the mere fact that a constitutional violation was a "but-for" cause of obtaining evidence. Our cases show that but-for causality is only a necessary, not a sufficient, condition for suppression. In this case, of course to f. 1182, the constitutional violation of an illegal manner of entry was not a but-for cause of obtaining the evidence. Whether that preliminary misstep had occurred or not, the police would have executed the warrant they had obtained, and would have discovered the gun and drugs inside the house. But even if the illegal entry here could be characterized as a but-for cause of...

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