Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Judge issued bogus warrants for 17 years

Law professor Orin Kerr writes:
Here’s a remarkable case from the Ohio Supreme Court, State v. Hoffman, involving an unconstitutional arrest warrant. The defendant was arrested for a misdemeanor based on a defective arrest warrant, leading to the discovery of evidence of murder. The remarkable part is why the arrest warrant was defective. For at least 17 years, magistrates in Toledo, Ohio were instructed to issue arrest warrants without ever actually making a probable cause determination. Officers would just say that the suspect had committed an offense, and the magistrates would issue the warrant without ever hearing the factual basis for that conclusion. Here’s the testimony of the magistrate who issued the arrest warrant in this case:
Q. And during your 17 years of swearing in criminal complaints with requests for arrest warrants, did you know what probable cause was?
A. No.
Q. Had you ever made a probable cause determination?
A. No.
* * *
Q. Did any of [your] training include making a probable cause determination?
A. No, it did not.
Pretty astonishing, given that the text of the Fourth Amendment says, “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”
I am wondering how they ever got to cross-examine the magistrate. If family court judges had to testify about their procedures and competence, a lot of people would be shocked at how bad they are.

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