South Carolina Supreme Court temporarily bans no-knock warrants

A former Causeway Police officer was convicted of malfeasance and firearm theft by a St....
A former Causeway Police officer was convicted of malfeasance and firearm theft by a St. Tammany Parish jury Thursday.
Updated: Jul. 11, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - The South Carolina Supreme Court has temporarily ordered judges to stop issuing “no-knock” search warrants.

The announcement, signed by Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty on Friday, said circuit and summary judges cannot sign off on the warrants until they receive further instruction from the state’s judicial branch on how to issue the warrants.

“A recent survey of magistrates revealed that most do not understand the gravity of no-knock warrants and do not discern the heightened requirements for issuing a no-knock warrant,” the order reads. “It further appears that no-knock search warrants are routinely issued upon request without further inquiry.”

The court acknowledged the dangers that executing such warrants can pose to both members of the public and to law enforcement. Law enforcement officers seek “no-knock” warrants from judges that allow them to enter homes and other buildings without announcing their presence prior to entry. Many police departments across the country have used them to serve people accused of drug crimes.

“No-knock” warrants have come under scrutiny nationwide following the death in March of Breonna Taylor, a woman fatally shot in her home by Louisville, Kentucky, police officers who had secured such a warrant.

Protesters against police brutality and racial injustice in South Carolina have called for ending the practice, one of a set of demands presented to lawmakers in June.

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