Maryland - The violent raid on the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo last week prompted an investigation into whether police were justified in breaking down his door and fatally shooting the family's two dogs.
But civil liberties advocates in Maryland insist that the raid was merely a high-profile example of a common concern.
Police targeted Calvo after he unknowingly received a package of marijuana from a mail-delivery drug operation.
They did not have a "no-knock" warrant, but forcefully entered the premises when they heard Calvo's mother-in-law scream - a possible sign that evidence was being destroyed, police officials said.
Several defense attorneys in Maryland said they often hear about similar questionable police searches, but the cases rarely make it to court because it is difficult to quantify damages when only your privacy has been violated.
"You can make some noise, but unless you're the mayor of some town, the newspapers don't pay attention," said Marc Peitersen, a lawyer in Catonsville, Md.
State's attorney spokesman Ramon Korionoff said "no-knock" warrants are often issued when the suspect has history of violence or has committed a violent crime. He added that even with regular warrants, "if there is a threat of violence that requires [police] to use force, then certainly that is an option they may pursue."
David Rocah, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said people often send them letters about police smashing doors and forcefully entering property, but the damages are too low to make it worthwhile to spend the time in court.
"The truth is that we don't even discuss it in our legal meetings anymore because we know that these aren't cases that can be litigated," Rocah said. He added that a 2006 Supreme Court decision made it easier for police to enter evidence into trial despite overstepping the bounds of their warrant.
On his blog, Silver Spring lawyer Jon Katz said police often leave "searched homes looking like tornadoes hit them, with drawers and trash cans removed and dumped out."
"Since the vast majority of criminal defendants plead guilty, the issue of a search warrant never sees the light of day," Katz said.
The Prince George's County Sheriff's Office and Police Department declined to comment for this story.
Newshawk: Educate to Liberate: http://www.efsdp.org
Pubdate: Sun, 10 Aug 2008
Source: Baltimore Examiner (MD)
Copyright: 2008 Baltimore Examiner
Author: Eric Roper
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/raids.htm (Drug Raids)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/people/Cheye+Calvo (Cheye Calvo)