Senate approves police searches and seizures without warrants.
Compiled by Dana Davis

Posted: 05/30/00


Friendly search.jpg (259814 bytes)

                   The United States Congress is on the verge of passing a
Republican sponsored bill that would eradicate the Fourth Amendment of the
United States Constitution. Article IV of the Bill of Rights states, "The
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by
Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched,
and the persons or things to be seized."

In addition, this bill extends its authority to impede upon the First
Amendment Right of "Freedom of Speech."

The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, "To provide for the punishment of
methamphetamine laboratory operators, provide additional resources to combat
methamphetamine production, trafficking, and abuse in the United States, and
for other purposes," has already passed through the Senate and was being
deliberated by the House of Representatives as of press time.

In effect, what the provision does is empower the Federal Government, State
Government and local law enforcement agencies, to enter private property -
homes, businesses, automobiles, etc. for any "criminal searches" without a
warrant and without any legal obligation to inform the private property
owner that a search and seizure was conducted until months later, if at all.
If the bill becomes law, then it would grant the Federal Government power
to obtain "intangible" evidence -- hard-drive data, photographs or copies
made of any documents or family or personal belongings, diaries, etc. -
without ever having to inform the owner that their property was searched.
If physical evidence was taken then the government could wait up to 90
days later, before having to notify the owner that a secret search of
their property ever occurred.

David Kopel, director of research for the Independence Institute, a Colorado
think tank focusing on Constitutional issues, said the bill was aimed
especially at computer hard drives, which could be copied in an owner'
absence and examined without the owner's knowledge.

The Senate's version of the bill (S. 486) was sponsored by Senator John
Ashcroft (R-Missouri). The House Bill (H.R. 2987) was sponsored by U.S.
Representative Chris Cannon (R-Utah).

It's primary initiative is to increase criminal penalties for the sale,
production and distribution of methamphetamines, appropriate funds to crack
down on "meth labs" where the drug is processed, and fund methamphetamine
treatment programs. However, tucked away deep inside the legal jargon of the
bill are two provisions which go far beyond the realm of methamphetamine
anti-proliferation or even the war on drugs. One measure pertains to police
search and seizure, while the other attempts to dictate Internet

Under present law, a property owner must be notified immediately of any
possession seized in a criminal search, but the "Notice and Clarification"
section of the methamphetamine bill (S. section 301, H.R. section 6) amends
U.S. Code by stating, "Section 3103a of title 18, United States Code, is
amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: `With respect to
any issuance under this section or any other provision of law (including
section 3117 and any rule), any notice required, or that may be required, to
be given may be delayed pursuant to the standards, terms, and conditions set
forth in section 2705, unless otherwise expressly provided by statute.'

A source within the Senate Judiciary committee, speaking on condition of
anonymity, admitted that the language in the search and seizure provision
"slipped by everybody" in the Senate.

"(Hatch and the Justice Department) buried it deep in the bill, and nobody
noticed until the thing had already passed."

"The Secret Searches measure is so outrageous that it would have no chance
of being enacted as a bill on its own, when subjected to public scrutiny and
debate," Kopel asserted. "So instead, the DOJ has nestled the Secret Search
item deep inside a long bill dealing with methamphetamines."

Jeanne Lapatto, spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee and its
chairman, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), said she was unaware of the specific
provisions in question, but defended the goals of the bill. "This is a
bipartisan bill," Lapatto said. "During hearings, no one had any problems
with the overall goal of the bill, which is curbing the horrible problem of

Another approach the bill takes to "curbing" methamphetamine usage is by
making it a crime to create a hypertext link on the Internet to any site
that "directly or indirectly advertises" drug paraphernalia, or distributes
information about the processing or purchase of drugs (S. section 203, H.R.
section 3). Under the provisions of the act, an Internet service provider,
who is notified by a district attorney or representative of the Drug
Enforcement Agency, that one of their hosted sites is in violation, would be
required to remove the site within 48 hours or face federal criminal

On top of that, another provision of the bill would make it punishable by up
to ten years in prison, "To teach or demonstrate. or to distribute by any
means of information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture of
a controlled substance."

U.S. Representative Bob Barr (R-Georgia), member of the House Judiciary
Committee, is leading the fight against this bill in the House. Barr asserts
that the search and seizure provisions of the bill, "Have nothing to do with
methamphetamines," and he believes that had the search and seizure provision
been introduced as a separate bill, its chances for passage, "Would be very,
very problematic."

"These are not minor changes," Barr added. "These are substantive and
far-reaching changes to the criminal law on search and seizure. It's
unconscionable that someone would try to sneak these provisions into an
unrelated bill."

A spokesperson for the Justice Department, which supports the provisions,
declined to comment directly, but did release a recent letter from Assistant
Attorney General Robert Ruben to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry
Hyde (R-Illinois).

In his letter, Ruben praised the bill for providing, "Important and
necessary tools for deterring the spread of methamphetamine manufacturing
and abuse in our nation."

Speaking on behalf of House sponsor, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah), legislative
director Chris MacKay said the no-notice provision was necessary for,
"Police to perform their job effectively."

According to MacKay, the provision was designed to allow police to search
with minimum risk to their safety and without suspects destroying evidence
before they arrive, adding, "Anything we can do to win the war on drugs is
worth doing."

Tribune Combined Report, using with permission, amongst other sources,
information compiled and written by Justin Torres of CNSNews.com and David
Kopel of the Independence Institute.

Send your comments to tribune@ioa.com

Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants

POSTED: 3:55 pm CST March 26, 2004
UPDATED: 4:36 pm CST March 26, 2004

Larry Morningstar
Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants
Sun Mar 28 12:45:58 2004

Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants


March 26, 2004

NEW ORLEANS -- It's a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts
say will affect everyone: Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a
search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or

Leaders in law enforcement say it will provide safety to officers, but
others argue it's a privilege that could be abused.

The decision was made by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of
Appeals. Two dissenting judges called it the "road to Hell."

The ruiling stems from a lawsuit filed in Denham Springs in 2000.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the
new power will go into effect immediately and won't be abused.

"We have to have a legitimate problem to be there in the first place,
and if we don't, we can't conduct the search," Defillo said.

But former U.S. Attorney Julian Murray has big problems with the ruling.

"I think it goes way too far," Murray said, noting that the searches
can be performed if an officer fears for his safety -- a subjective

Defillo said he doesn't envision any problems in New Orleans, but if
there are, they will be handled.

"There are checks and balances to make sure the criminal justce system
works in an effective manor," Defillo said.

Copyright 2004 by TheNewOrleansChannel.com.


Searched news for Searches Without Warrants. Results 1 - 10 of about 45


by David B. Kopel [1] & Paul H. Blackman [2]

Searched the web for Waco Search Warrants.


The Fourth Amendment at Waco
This copy of the Bill of Rights was found in
the ashes at Waco. Back to Strike



Government insists on keeping reasons for raid secret

Wednesday, 28-Feb-01 15:37:35 writes:

    [Note: No-Knock raids, another result of the war on drugs where an armed
    group of screaming men and women can invade a home, usually in the dead of the night, and the residents are expected to not react defensively. - Tony]

    Government insists on keeping reasons for Wilson raid secret

    The federal government says it shouldn't have to disclose the reasons
    behind an ATF raid on the home of a Faulkner County resident, according to
    the U.S. attorney's response to a motion filed last week by the

    The pre-dawn, surprise raid by federal agents and area lawmen left
    60-year-old Carl Wilson dead and two officers injured.

    Thus far, only the search warrant and a list of what was seized have been
    made public. Everything else pertaining to the case remains sealed in
    federal court.

    On Feb. 15, the Democrat-Gazette filed a motion asking U.S. Magistrate J.
    Thomas Ray to make all of the documents public.

    In a response filed Monday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Michael Johnson argues that unsealing the case would compromise confidential information related to the investigation.

    It also would make public the names of witnesses, and those people might
    then be subjected to "intimidation, tampering and public inquiries," the
    response states.

    Attorney Jess Askew, who is representing the Democrat-Gazette, replied:

    "A man was killed in his bedroom by federal agents, and the press wants to
    know why they were there. The First Amendment guarantees this access,
    unless compelling interests require otherwise. Here, there is no on-going
    investigation of Mr. Wilson to protect, and we see no reason why the First
    Amendment should not prevail."

    The judge's ruling on the issue is pending.

    Wilson, who had lived in his rural Mayflower home for the last 18 years,
    was killed in a shootout with a SWAT team that was trying to serve a
    "no-knock" search warrant before dawn on Jan. 12.

    A no-knock warrant gives police permission to enter someone's home without announcing who they are.

    During the 6:30 a.m. raid, which quickly disintegrated into a gunbattle
    between Wilson and authorities, two officers were injured. One hit his head
    while diving to avoid bullets. The other was hit in the arm by shrapnel.

    Wilson, who was shot at least five times, died in his bedroom.

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was looking for a
    .30-.30-caliber Winchester rifle, according to the warrant. Wilson's widow,
    Tammy, says her husband had owned the gun for as long as she could
    remember. The couple were together for 23 years.

    Seized from the Wilson home were the Winchester, seven other guns and
    ammunition, a bong, a pipe, scales, a plastic bag containing a fourth of a
    gram of "white powder," a large Ziploc bag containing smaller bags of
    marijuana, a pill bottle of marijuana seeds and burned marijuana
    cigarettes, according to the ATF's inventory list.

    Also taken was a "paper note," which Tammy Wilson says was tacked to the closet where Wilson kept his guns. It read: "If you open this door, the
    whole house will blow up. Try me -- Wilson."

    The probable-cause affidavit, which was presented to a judge before the
    search warrant was granted, would explain why the government wanted the
    hunting rifle. This document also would offer insight into why ATF agents
    felt a no-knock raid was necessary.

    In its motion, the Democrat-Gazette states: "A civilian was killed and two
    law enforcement officers were injured during the execution of this search
    warrant. The public is entitled to know the circumstances and manner in
    which state and federal law enforcement officials carried out their public

    But federal prosecutors argue that unsealing the documents related to the
    investigation of Wilson won't explain how the raid transpired.

    "These sealed documents were created prior to the execution of the
    warrant," the government's response states. "The manner in which officers
    obtained the warrant is clear without review of sealed documents."

    Tammy Wilson vehemently disagrees.

    "They say it doesn't matter why he was wanted, that this doesn't have
    anything to do with the fact that a shootout occurred? Well, it might not
    make a difference to them, but it makes a big difference to me."

    As for the government's argument that names of witnesses would be revealed
    if the case is unsealed, Tammy Wilson said, "Well, too damn bad. Let the
    witnesses come out."

    Authorities say they cannot comment on the investigation or the raid until
    a state police inquiry into the shootout is finished.

    That inquiry is ongoing, Special Agent Scott Wall said Tuesday, adding that
    state police are awaiting reports from the medical examiner. "I would hope
    they would have already been in by now, but [state Crime Laboratory
    workers] are backed up."

    Once the investigation is finished, the results will be turned over to
    Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney H. G. Foster, who will then decide
    whether to press charges, close the case or ask police to investigate

    Once the case is closed, it becomes public record.

    Tammy Wilson is hoping to find some answers within those documents, she says.

    "I don't have any vendetta. I don't have a bad heart. I just want to know
    the truth."



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