Huron police lawfully entered a home where an underage drinking party was underway, even though they did not have a search warrant, Huron Municipal Court Judge William Steuk ruled.
Steuk wrote the judgment entry Friday in response to a motion to suppress evidence filed by attorney K. Ronald Bailey on behalf of his client, Jane L. Bickley.
Bickley, 46, is the former Huron High cheerleader advisor who faces four counts of furnishing alcohol to minors after police broke up an underage drinking party March 15 at Bickley's home in the 100 block of Richland Ave.
Bickley and her husband told police they were both in their bedroom and unaware the teens were drinking.
In a July 18 suppression hearing, Bailey argued that police violated the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure. Bailey said police did not have the right to go to the rear of the house, where they were able to look through the window and see open beer cans and teens drinking. Bailey also argued police did not have probable cause to enter the home, did not knock and announce themselves before entering and were not in hot pursuit of a teen who attended the party when they followed him into the home.
Police went to the home on a tip of underage drinking. When they arrived they found a note pasted to the front door with nine rules. One rule read "NO DRINKING! (unless you are one of the lucky girls staying)" and another read "DON'T answer the door if the cops come."
After seeing the note officers went to the rear of the home, where they saw the teens and beer cans through the window. Officers tried to detain Royce Lemar, a teen who attended the party, when he came to the rear door. When Lemar ran inside shouting the cops were there, an officer followed.
In his ruling Steuk wrote that Lemar's action, coupled with what officers saw in the home, provided "probable cause to believe Lemar was committing the crime of underage consumption."
He said the note on the front door also gave police evidence that an underage party was underway, and they were within their rights to go to the rear of the home.
Police did not need to knock and announce before entering, Steuk wrote, because Lemar "informed other occupants of the presence of police. As a result, executing the 'knock and announce' rule would be needless and futile."
Bailey argued police were not allowed to enter the home to chase Lemar because he never fully came out of the house and instead stayed on a porch in the rear of the home. Officers claimed Lemar did exit the back door.
Steuk said it didn't matter where Lemar was standing.
"Even if Lemar was one foot inside the doorway, he was still exposed to public view ... as though he was standing completely outside the home," and therefore police had the right to chase him, Steuk said.
"The evidence obtained by the officer can not be excluded as it was in plain view of the officer when he lawfully entered the home," Steuk said.
Bailey said he does not know what his next move will be.
"I saw what his ruling was. I don't agree with him," Bailey said. "I haven't had a chance to talk with my client to see what she wants to do."