Tuesday, March 21, 2006

SCOTUS Upholds Anticipatory Warrants -- US v. Grubbs.

The US Supreme Court has issued its ruling in US v. Grubbs, concerning the use of "anticipatory search warrants." The question presented in the case was whether the 4th Amendment requires suppression of evidence when the anticipatory warrant's triggering condition is satisfied, but the triggering condition is not set forth in the warrant itself.

The defendant in the case, Grubbs, was charged with possession of child pornography after ordering a videotape. Investigating officers applied for an "anticipatory warrant," to become operative after a "triggering event" occurred to indicate probable cause. The affidavit asked for a warrant that could be executed after the pornographic videotape was delivered to the house, received by Grubbs, and taken into the house. The warrant was granted, but the warrant itself did not indicate what the "triggering events" were; affidavits attached to the warrant did indicate the triggering event, however. When police executed the warrant, after Grubbs' wife received the videotape from a postman, the police presented Grubbs with the warrant (which did not list the triggering event), but not the affidavit (which did list the triggering event).

The trial court denied Grubbs' motion to suppress. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that the triggering event needed to be shown to the person whose property is being searched.

Today, SCOTUS reversed the Ninth Circuit. In an opinion by Scalia, the Court upheld the use of anticipatory warrants, held that the "triggering event" in the present case provided sufficient probable cause for the issuance of an anticipatory warrant, and held that the warrant itself does not require the "triggering events" to be set forth. The Court held that the "particularity" requirement in the 4th Amendment requires only that the warrant particularly set forth the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Jurist post.
SCOTUS opinion


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