GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The U.S. Supreme Court says it will not take up the case of two Kent County jail guards who were prosecuted for having marijuana butter, but had their cases dismissed because their rights were violated.
“They decided against us, so we’ll abide by that,’’ Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said on Wednesday.
Becker’s office filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a 2017 decision by the Michigan Supreme Court that predawn “knock and talk’’ interviews conducted by Kent County officers were improper.
The Michigan Supreme Court said police were trespassing with the early morning visits, which turned into searches at the homes of Michael Frederick and Todd VanDoorne, who worked as Kent County corrections officers.
The two were charged with having marijuana butter, even though the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team did not have a search warrant.
The Michigan Supreme Court said actions by the sheriff's department on March 18, 2014 constituted an illegal search and seizure. With that ruling, a Kent County judge dismissed the cases against Frederick and VanDoorne.
Becker said he wanted to have the U.S. Supreme Court review the case, but concedes it was a long-shot.
“Anytime you apply to the Supreme Court, it’s a huge long-shot,’’ Becker said. “But we felt the issues regarding the search were important enough.’’
Block said it is improper for police to show up at a person’s door in the middle of the night without a warrant and expect unfettered access and cooperation.
He likens it to having a vacuum cleaner salesman or cookie-peddling girl scout ring the bell at 4 a.m.
“You’ve got to go during reasonable hours when somebody would expect to receive visitors,’’ he said. “But you don’t expect them to come at 4 and 5:30 in the morning.’’
Becker says he fears restrictions on ‘knock and talk’ interviews could impede police investigations.
“Any investigation where you’re trying to get information right off the bat, you want to go to the houses, to the witnesses as soon as you can,’’ he said. “We’ll see where it takes us because it opens up more issues that potentially can be raised.’’
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