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Illinois Supreme Court Invalidates Part of State's No-Knock Statute


January 1997

On December 19, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a provision of the state's no-knock statute that allows unannounced searches under certain circumstances. The provision struck down had allowed police to search a house without knocking if they believe that guns are inside the home (West Publishing Co., State Bar Association Edition, Illinois Compiled Statutes, 1994, Volume 6, Chapters 505 to 739, p. 1283; (The People of the State of Illinois v. Paul Krueger, 1996WL732035, (December 19, 1996); Dennis O'Brien and Ken Armstrong, "Police must knock before they raid house, court rules," Chicago Tribune, December 20, 1996, s, 2, p. 6).

Illinois law states, "Upon a finding by the judge issuing the warrant that any of the following exigent circumstances exist, the judge may order the person executing the warrant make entry without first knocking and announcing his office." The second of four exigent circumstances listed was the provision struck down. It read:

The prior possession of firearms by an occupant of the building within a reasonable period of time." (725 ILCS 5/108-8(b)(2) (West 1994))

In November 1995, an unannounced raid on the Round Lake, Illinois home of Paul Krueger, 33, allegedly uncovered drugs and a loaded handgun. In January 1996, a trial judge ruled that the evidence was inadmissible because the police's unannounced entry violated the state constitution's prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure. The Illinois Supreme Court concurred, calling the provision unconstitutional because it did not require a further finding that police reasonably believe that weapons will be used against them. Krueger's lawyer on appeal, Hercules Paul Zagoras, argued, "Just because a person has a licensed gun shouldn't make him a second-class citizen who's not entitled to protection from unreasonable searches and seizures."

"Maybe we should have the justices come ... with us to one of those fortified drug houses down in Chicago," said Michael Maley, director of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, the police that raided Krueger's home. "We're disappointed ... but most of the law is still intact," said Dan Curry, a spokesman for the Illinois attorney general's office, adding, "Police still have some protections when executing dangerous searches." Police retain the right to unannounced searches in other instances, such as buildings equipped with surveillance cameras or obstacles such as steel doors.