Sample Paper Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. __ (2011)


This case involved a controlled undercover operation by the Kentucky, Lexington police and Hollis King who is the defendant in this case. The operation involved selling of cocaine by the officers with the intention of luring the real culprits into the trap. The police set up the operation outside an apartment where the suspected dealer lived. The suspect fell for the trap and was seen heading to the apartments where the controlled sale was taking place. The operation was unrelated to king but he happened to move into the apartment. The police officers moved in but unfortunately lost sight of King. While in the building, the officers detected the smell of the illegal drugs in one of the rooms. They moved into the room and procedurally identified themselves. However, while in the room, there was unsettling movement and this led the police to believe that there was a plan to destroy the evidence. These movements forced the police to enter the room without any valid court warranty. In the room the officers found king and two other suspects consuming the drugs. During a search of the building, the police recovered marijuana drugs and cocaine. The suspect of the initial pursuit was however not in the building at the time. Charges were preferred against king for possession and trafficking of such controlled substances. King contested the search as having been conducted without a valid warranty. On his motion to suppress guilty plea by entering a conditional guilty plea, the court was not moved and therefore denied. King was dissatisfied by the decision of the lower court and therefore made an appeal at the Kentucky Supreme Court. The appeal


The issues in the case were whether the warranty was necessary for a valid for any search by the police on king’s room or the police were within the law to conduct a search based on existing exigencies. It was also important to determine if king was a suspect or the target of the police in the initial operation.


On appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court, the judges were not satisfied with the holding of the lover court and decided to reverse the decision. In the decision, it was held that the police should have sought a proper search warrant to enter the premises of King. Evidence before the court did not show a nexus between king and the original suspect. The court was also of the view that the original suspect was not aware of his pursuit by police and therefore king was acquitted of the charges preferred and the conviction of the lower court quashed


The Supreme Court decision was based on the fact that the search was not reasonable and therefore violated the rights of King. The searches that are executed around individual homes need a proper warrant from the court and should not be arbitrary unless there are compelling exigencies which were absent in this case. An exigency should be real and not a creation of the police as was the case here. The officers did not enter the apartment in the right manner and have not demonstrated existence of any exigency to do so. Exigent circumstances should not be created by police to satisfy their narrative so as not to follow the law in acquiring orders for search