Hudson v. Michigan: Cato Expert Says Court is Wrong on “No-Knock” Police Raids

June 15, 2006

Media Contact: (202) 789-5200

The Supreme Court ruled today in a landmark decision that police can use evidence collected with a warrant even if officers fail to knock before entering a home.

In his dissent, Justice Breyer cited Cato policy analyst Radley Balko’s recent Slate op-ed, “No SWAT.” Balko, who is also author of the upcoming Cato White Paper “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Drug Raids in America,” is available to discuss today’s ruling. Please call or e-mail the media relations office to arrange an interview: (202) 789-5200, pr [at] cato [dot] org.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Hudson v. Michigan is regrettable,” says Balko. “The rise of paramilitary-type police units conducting ‘no-knock’ raids on American citizens is a disturbing trend in domestic law enforcement.  Police excess, procedural errors, and reliance on ‘confidential informants’ of dubious character have caused hundreds of violent raids to be waged on completely innocent civilians.  Dozens of nonviolent offenders, bystanders, and innocents have been killed or injured as a result.  Because the courts have set the bar extremely high in allowing victims of botched raids to sue police officers and their superiors, the only real defense left against wholesale disregard for the rule requiring police to ‘knock and announce’ before entering private residences was to exclude evidence seized in illegal raids.  Today, the Supreme Court removed that defense.

“Because of today’s decision, we can expect to see an even more pronounced increase in the use of illegal, military-style no-knock raids.  And we can expect to see more innocent civilians wrongly targeted.”

Raiding Reality,” by Radley Balko.

No SWAT,” by Radley Balko. Slate on April 6, 2006.

Cato Institute Amicus Brief: Booker T. Hudson, Jr. v. State of Michigan, August 1, 2005.