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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > December 2012 > Trending in the Courts

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Trending in the Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering two cases of interest to the criminal justice community this term. Decisions are expected by mid-2013.
Maryland v. King
In this case, the court will answer the question of whether the Fourth Amendment permits warrantless collection and analysis of DNA from a felony arrestee, solely for use in investigating other offenses, without individualized suspicion.
In 2009, Alonzo Jay King Jr. was arrested for assault. Police collected his DNA and placed it in the statewide database. While he was awaiting trial on the assault, King’s DNA profile generated a match to a DNA sample collected from a 2003 unsolved rape. The match gave police probable cause to indict King for rape, and he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on the rape charge, and King challenged the collection of his DNA while he was an arrestee.
Maryland extended its DNA sampling law in 2008 to require sampling of those arrested and not yet convicted. Maryland’s highest court reversed King’s conviction, holding that collecting a DNA sample from an arrestee was unconstitutional as applied to King. However, the federal government and 24 of the 50 states, including Ohio, have similar DNA sampling laws.
The Supreme Court released an order allowing police to continue collecting DNA samples from arrestees while it considers the issue, which has pitted law enforcement interests against privacy concerns.
Bailey v. United States
More than 30 years ago, in Michigan v. Summers, the U.S. Supreme Court held that when police officers execute a search warrant at a home, they may detain a resident until the search is completed. The question before the Supreme Court now is whether peace officers may detain an individual while executing a search warrant when the individual left the vicinity of his home before the warrant was executed.
In 2005, officers had a no-knock search warrant for Chunon Bailey’s apartment. While conducting surveillance before executing the warrant, the officers saw Bailey come out of the apartment, get into a car, and drive away. They decided not to detain him on the scene, fearing they might alert someone in the apartment to their presence and jeopardize potential evidence inside. About a mile down the road, the officers stopped Bailey’s car, ordered him to get out, and frisked him. They didn’t find any weapons, but they seized Bailey’s keys from his pants pocket and questioned him. Officers told him that he was being detained incident to the execution of the search warrant and drove him back to the apartment. They arrested Bailey after finding guns and drugs in the apartment.
The Second Circuit Court held that, under Michigan v. Summers, the officers could detain Bailey incident to executing the search warrant even though he was detained away from his home because he was in close proximity and the detention occurred as soon as practicable. The lower court noted that the officers’ decision to wait until Bailey had driven out of view of the home before detaining him was reasonable given their concern for officer safety and the potential of alerting other possible occupants of the home.