In an opinion released on February 5, Michigan’s Court of Appeals overturned two Oakland County lower court rulings and held “that the warrantless entry into [Eric Conrad Hill’s] home by police did not violate the protections against unreasonable searches and seizures set forth in article 1, § 11, of the Michigan Constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, where, given all of the surrounding circumstances, the community caretaking exception to the warrant requirement was implicated. Moreover, even were we to assume that a constitutional violation occurred, this is not a case in which the exclusionary rule should apply, as there is no evidence of police misconduct. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for reinstatement of the marijuana manufacturing charge.” Chief CoA Judge William B. Murphy and Judge William C. Whitbeck joined together in the majority opinion.
When the police entered Hill's home on March 8, 2010, marijuana plants were discovered and he was charged with illegally manufacturing them.
In her dissent, Judge Jane E. Markey described why she believed Hill’s rights were violated: “...Hazel Park police officer Mike Emmi broke, entered, and searched defendant’s home purportedly to perform a “welfare check.” Emmi acted after a ten-minute investigation into the complaint of a person of unknown credibility and who admittedly had little to no interaction with defendant, who lived several houses away. … This was a search without a warrant that was neither reasonable nor justified by any exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment and Const 1963, art 1, § 11. Both the district court, which heard Emmi’s testimony, and the circuit court that reviewed the district court’s decision concluded that that the prosecutor failed to establish any exception to the warrant requirement and that the evidence seized during the unreasonable search and seizure must therefore be suppressed. I agree, and so, I respectfully dissent. I would affirm the trial courts’ decisions.”
Hill’s appellate attorney said the CoA’s ruling “totally obviates your right to privacy.” Terri L. Antisdale, of Madison Heights, expressed that what she finds most disturbing is that “we’re going to give up our right to privacy and to be free from warrantless searches to protect us from any imaginable bad thing that could possibly happen to us.” Antisdale said the lower courts were right to suppress the evidence in Hill's case but it is unknown at this time whether the CoA's ruling will be appealed to Michigan’s Supreme Court.
At the time of publication, the appellate division for the Oakland County prosecutor’s office had not returned a call seeking comment for this story.