Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Grandma + Gun = No Exigency

United States v. Keys, No. 03-6041(6th Cir. 8/9/05)
In this unpublished decision, the appeals court elaborates on United States v. Chambers, and what constitutes exigent circumstances that would justify a warrantless entry into a home. The facts: A Memphis cop called out to Keys, who was banging on the door at a duplex and shouting for someone to let him in. Keys decided to drop a gun on the ground and run away. After chasing Keys, the officer returned to the area and saw that the gun was gone, but someone told him that "grandma" had taken the gun into the duplex. As the officer testified, he knocked on the duplex door, and grandma told him in a loud clear voice that the gun was in the kitchen, so the officer went inside and retrieved it. Apparently, however, grandma had her larynx removed in 1979, and was unable to speak out loud at all. The holding: There was no valid consent to enter the home. More importantly, exigent circumstances did not justify the officer’s warrantless entry into the home. The main piece of evidence sought by the police was a gun, and "[f]eared concealment of the firearm is not enough to evade the warrant requirements." Further, it is doubtful that a firearm could actually be destroyed in the time it would have taken to obtain a warrant. This case is full of good cites and language concerning the very limited circumstances in which exigency will justify warrantless entries into homes.

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