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Media Alerts - U.S. v. Weaver - D.C. Circuit
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September 4, 2015
  U.S. v. Weaver - D.C. Circuit
Headline: Split D.C. Circuit panel holds exclusionary rule can apply to knock-and-announce violations

Area of Law: Fourth Amendment

Issue(s) Presented: Whether the exclusionary rule applies to knock-and-announce violations in the context of arrest warrants.

Brief Summary: Appellant Michael Weaver was arrested in his home by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agents executing n warrant for his arrest on drug trafficking charges. The agents serving the warrant identified themselves as "police" but did not announce that they had a warrant for Weaver's arrest. During the course of the arrest, the agents observed large quantities of drugs and cash in Weaver's kitchen. They subsequently applied for and received a search warrant on the basis of that observation, and evidence seized pursuant to that warrant led to additional drug possession and distribution charges. Weaver unsuccessfully moved to suppress evidence from the search warrant at trial, contending that the warrant derived solely from the observations agents made while executing the arrest warrant and that the agents were not legally authorized to be in his apartment when they made those observations because they had violated the knock-and-announce rule. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that there had been no knock-and-announce violation because the officers knocked, announced "police," and then waited a reasonable time before opening the door. The court also concluded that, even if there had been a violation, Weaver was not entitled to suppression because the Supreme Court's decision in Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586 (2006), held the exclusionary rule inapplicable to knock-and-announce violations generally.

A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed. On appeal, the government conceded that the agents executing the arrest warrant did violate the knock-and-announce rule by failing to announce their purpose before entering Weaver's apartment. The D.C. Circuit then went on to hold that Hudson was not controlling outside the context of a search warrant. The court's analysis focused on the difference between search and arrest warrants and the privacy interests they implicate. Because a search warrant provides government agents with a "judicially-sanctioned prerogative to invade the privacy of the home," the court reasoned that the knock-and-announce rule, which governs only the manner in which the agents may enter the home, does not have any impact on what agents can view or seize once they have gained entry. An arrest warrant, by contrast, reflects no grant of authority to search the home. Because an individual subject to an arrest warrant retains a "robust privacy interest in [his] home's interior" protected by the knock-and-announce rule, the court held that the exclusionary rule could be an appropriate remedy for a violation.

Judge Henderson dissented, arguing that the exclusionary rule did not apply to a violation of the knock-and-announce requirement under any circumstances.

For the full text of the opinion, please see

Panel (if known): Henderson, Rogers, and Pillard

Argument Date (if known): February 10, 2015

Date of Issued Opinion: September 4, 2015

Docket Number: 13-3097

Decided: Reversed

Case Alert Author: Ripple Weistling

Counsel (if known): Beverly G. Dyer and A.J. Kramer for Appellant.

Patricia A. Heffernan, Ronald C. Machen, Jr., Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, and John P. Dominguez for Appellee.

Author of Opinion: Pillard

Dissent: Henderson

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Elizabeth Earle Beske, Ripple Weistling

    Posted By: Ripple Weistling @ 09/04/2015 01:56 PM     DC Circuit  

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