Justices rule on 'no-knock' warrant executions

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Constitution doesn’t require prior judicial authorization for a “no-knock” execution of a warrant when justified by exigent circumstances, the Indiana Supreme Court held Tuesday. This is the case even if those circumstances are known by police when the warrant is obtained.

The high court released opinions in the companion interlocutory appeals of Cornelius Tyrone Lacey Sr. v. State of Indiana, No. 02S05-1010-CR-601, and Damion J. Wilkins v. State of Indiana, No. 02S03-1010-CR-604, in which the men challenged the denial of their motions to suppress evidence obtained after police forced their way into Cornelius Lacey’s home without knocking and announcing themselves while executing a search warrant. Wilkins was also at Lacey’s home when police arrived.

The men are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and possession of marijuana. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of their motions to suppress.

In Lacey, the justices delved into the men’s arguments that police knew about the exigent circumstances asserted by the state to justify the no-knock entry, but that police didn’t provide the information to the magistrate and didn’t seek and receive explicit authorization to dispense with the knock and announce procedure.

Justice Brent Dickson noted that Indiana jurisprudence hadn’t confronted whether police must obtain no-knock warrants when justified solely by information known at the time of the warrant application. The justices examined cases in federal and state courts, including some in Indiana, to hold that Article I, Section 11 of the state constitution doesn’t require prior judicial authorization for the execution of a no-knock warrant when justified by exigent circumstances, even if police know those circumstances when they get the warrant.

“Rather, courts will assess the reasonableness of entry based on the totality of the circumstances at the time the warrant was served. Constitutional uncertainty may be minimized when police, knowing in advance of the need to execute a warrant without complying with the knock and announce requirement, present the known facts when seeking the warrant and obtain express judicial authorization for a no-knock entry. This is certainly the better practice,” wrote Justice Dickson.

In Wilkins, Wilkins argued that the factual circumstances presented in the record didn’t constitute sufficient exigent circumstances to justify the no-knock execution. He claimed that the exigent circumstances relied on by the state was officer safety, that this came from Wilkins’ prior conviction for armed robbery and resisting arrest, and that the state didn’t establish that the police had any expectation that he would be at Lacey’s home when they searched the residence. Therefore, it was an unreasonable search prohibited by the federal constitution.

But suppression isn’t appropriate under federal law, and the justices affirmed the denial of his motion.

The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of their motions to suppress and summarily affirmed the Court of Appeals as to the men’s other appellate claims.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.