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Kentucky v. King, USSC No. 09-1272, cert. grant 9/29/10


Decision below (KY supreme court)

Question Presented (from USSC docket post):

Police officers entered an apartment building in hot pursuit of a person who sold crack cocaine to an undercover informant. They heard a door slam, but were not certain which of two apartments the trafficker fled into. A strong odor of marijuana emanated from one of the doors, which prompted the officers to believe the trafficker had fled into that apartment. The officers knocked on the door. They then heard noises which indicated that physical evidence was being destroyed. The officers entered the apartment and found large quantities of drugs. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that this evidence should have been suppressed, ruling that (1) the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement did not apply because the officers created the exigency by knocking on the door, and (2) the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement did not apply because the suspect was not aware he was being pursued. The … question[] presented [is]: 1. When does lawful police action impermissibly “create” exigent circumstances which preclude warrantless entry; and which of the five tests currently being used by the United States Courts of Appeals is proper to determine when impermissibly created exigent circumstances exist?

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The Wisconsin supreme court recently upheld warrantless entry in a very similar situation, albeit in context of “knock-and-talk” rather than hot pursuit, in State v. Terion Lamar Robinson, 2010 WI 80, ¶32 (“This court has recognized that police officers may not benefit from exigent circumstances that they themselves create. Id., ¶28 n.7. However, we disagree with Robinson that the officers impermissibly created the exigent circumstances merely by knocking on his door and announcing their presence.”) If the Kentucky decision is affirmed, Robinson could well be thrown into doubt.

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