Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Court hands down Georgia v. Randolph opinion

Six Justices wrote separately. A plurality held that police may not enter on the basis of consent when one occumpant gives permission, and the other clearly withholds consent to enter a dwelling. The facts and resolution of the case are discussed in the article.

I discussed this case in my criminal procedure class and predicted this outcome, despite the outcome of IL v. Rodriguez (1990), in which a live-in girlfriend gave police permission to search while her abusive bf slept. The facts in this case were unusual and clearly different than Rodriguez.

Perhaps predictably, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas sided with law enforcement. However, keep in mind that the bright-line rule that this case advances is that police could have called a DA to ask for a warrant while "chatting" with the "suspects." A mad dash into the house to flush contraband could have resulted in exigent circumstances sufficient to alow police to follow them into the house.

Indeed in this instance transactions costs in searching are increased. But the rights to home privacy, I think, should be inviolate. This should hold true even in instances of marital spats, even when the principle places a burden on law enforcement.