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: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.Q. And during your 17 years of swearing in criminal complaints with requests for arrest warrants, did you know what probable cause was?Pretty astonishing, given that the text of the Fourth Amendment says, “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”
Q. Had you ever made a probable cause determination?
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Q. Did any of [your] training include making a probable cause determination?
A. No, it did not.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Judge issued bogus warrants for 17 years
Law professor Orin Kerr writes: