The concerns in No-knock search warrant cases are surprisingly common in legal citations, and are usually grounded on pure technicalities in congruence with the discretion of the law enforcer’s grasp on the situation. This particular No-knock search warrant case was brought to the attention of the district court of appeals in reference to the plea of the respondent, Mr. Hernan Ramirez, on the proposition to discourage the use of the guns found in his house as evidences in the course of executing the No-knock search warrant by local law enforcers.
The warrant was intended in capturing Alan Shelby, a convicted felon, who had escaped the Tillamook County Sheriff’s office in November of 1994, and was believed to have been seen at the respondent’s house. Mr. Ramirez had pressed further that the decision of the law enforcers to exact the No-knock search warrant violated the Fourth amendment of the U. S. Constitution and the 18 U. S. C 1309 since it involved destruction of property as law enforcers broke a window from his garage.
The district court approved the motion by the respondent on the basis that exigent circumstances were inadequate to validate the actions of the law enforcers. However, the court’s decision was reversed on March of 1998 when the Ninth Circuit under Chief Justice Rehnquist declared it invalid upon the argument that the law enforcers had reasonable suspicion to execute a No-knock search warrant when it proved to be unsafe for the proceedings of the investigation.
After evaluating the decision of the Ninth Circuit to negate the judgment of the district court, it still baffles me that the case was allowed to be processed in the first place. The grounds by which Mr. Ramirez had based his arguments, for the purpose of suppressing evidence, had little or no effect in the infringement of the Fourth amendment and Section 1309 as proper prior warning was carried out upon entering the house of the respondent and the claim on the necessity of property destruction was not bounded on the legality of the search procedure.
According to the reports presented to the court, law enforcers were able to announce their presence at Mr. Ramirez’s house through a loud speaker before entering the premises. Bearing in mind the informant’s contention on Shelby’s whereabouts in the Ramirez premises and the questionable records on Shelby’s behavior and unwillingness to do federal time, law enforcers had every right to take precautionary measures in handling the search warrant. Granted that it is common practice for law enforcers to knock and announce their presence before forcing an entry, as was stipulated in the Wilson vs.
Arkansas case, such a procedure can be avoided if it is founded on reasonable suspicion that by doing so would undermine the investigation procedures. For this particular case, failure to announce was not the issue. This conclusion was drawn out from the decision in the Richards v. Wisconsin case which dealt with serving No-knock search warrants in drug investigations.
With regard to Section 1309, the code failed to support the motion of infringement by Mr. Ramirez as it merely states the condition in which law enforcers may impose destruction of property and even then, it still did not affirm that such actions were prohibited otherwise. In correlation with the case of Pennsylvania v. Mimms on the Fourth amendment, a violation on property destruction can be asserted if needless damage was accomplished but this did not take place as only a single window in the garage was broken to deter the occupants from obtaining the arms that the informant believed to have been stashed in that area of the house.
The decision of the law enforcers to break the window was of reasonable intention and must not be taken as a reckless act. The court’s ruling under these circumstances was patterned to the case of Richards v. Wisconsin concerning reasonable suspicion for property destruction. The respondent’s claims were irrelevant to begin with as it relied too much on the degree to which search warrants must be carried out and the principles that governed property destruction, which fell short on delivery.
Regardless of the reliability of the informant’s word or the time frame in which the warrant was executed, I see no reason to further investigate this case other than what was presented. Therefore, my opinion resides on the court’s ruling.
Reference: United States v. Ramirez (96-1469) 91 F. 3d 1297, reversed and remanded. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute Web site: http://supct. law. cornell. edu/supct/search/display. html? terms=United+States+v+Ramirez&url=/supct/html/96-1469. ZO. html