When the police don’t have enough evidence to get a search warrant, they sometimes employ a procedure they have nicknamed “knock and talk” to investigate further. Courts have ruled that a police officer has the same right as an everyday citizen (for example, a girl scout selling cookies) to visit your house, knock on your front door, and ask to speak with you. Unfortunately, abuses of the “knock and talk” technique have become rampant.

In 2016 the ACLU of Michigan filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Michigan Supreme Court, arguing that a so-called “knock and talk” violates the Fourth Amendment when it is conducted in the middle of the night.

In 2017 the Michigan Supreme Court agreed with us and held that the police were trespassing, and therefore violating the Fourth Amendment, when they woke up suspects and their families in the middle of the night to interrogate them in their homes. Following additional proceedings on remand, in June 2019 the prosecutor asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling and we provided direct representation in opposing Supreme Court review. In October 2019 the Supreme Court denied the prosecutor’s petition.

(People v. Frederick; ACLU Attorney Dan Korobkin; Cooperating Attorney David Moran of U-M Law School; co-counsel John Minock and Brad Hall of Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan.) 

Date filed