Searched Naked at Gunpoint... My Bad Wrong House

Jun 2, 2005
From my buddy's blog:

It's amazing what little news the Supreme Court generates these days. As a criminal defense lawyer I have become used to the appellate courts backing police officers in questionable search or arrest situations (Atwater vs. Lago Vista).

Still the facts behind Los Angeles County vs. Rettele should shock even the most jaded criminal justice observer.

Police in LA County got a warrant to search a house for, get this... IDENTITY THEFT. Wow.. pretty scary stuff. Knocking before entry has been rendered uneccesary by the Supreme Court so the police break in unannounced.

The police swarm the bedroom and order the sleeping resident Rattelle and Sadler out of bed. The residents were both sleeping naked. The residents both try to get dressed but are ordered "not to move" at gunpoint.

The house had recently been sold. The suspects the police were looking for where black; they residents were white. The police made the residents stand naked for 15 minutes at gunpoint while they searched for ID theft evidence.

The residents sued arguing the search was "unreasonable" and violated their 4th amendment right. The Supreme Courts reply... Quit Whining, Law Enforcement is a tough job. The justices fall over themselves describing every danger an officer may face from weapons hidden in the bedsheets to hidden gunmen in the every nook and cranny.

Should police have to investigate the facts behind a warrant? Should the police have to use common sense during home invasion searches?

The SCOTUS answer-No and no. If an officers "probable cause" turns out to be wrong, it doesn't matter. The search is still "reasonable".

The majority concludes by telling us that "warrants will issue to search the innocent" and that officers face dangerous situations. No one is arguing that. The fact is that searching a residence should require some minimum level of fact checking. Police should be accountable for what would be a felonious action if conducted by a private citizen. At least the police did not kill an innocent person like the recent wrong house search in Atlanta.

I remember Criminal Procedure in law school. Case by case the 4th Amendment was stripped down to justify searches for drugs. I called it the Drug War exception to the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court has made a conscious effort to justify every search because they believe that fighting crime is more important than our liberty.

When I was a prosecutor I never worried about appeals of convictions or searches. The case law in Texas is clear that most errors are "harmless" or "waived". Appellate courts see standing up for the Constitution as helping criminals and hurting law enforcement.

I believe the opposite. Holding police to higher standards will only help the public perception of law enforcement and lead to better prosecution in the long run. Searching homes is a dangerous situation, for the police and the residents. Before we allow police to break in unnanounced with guns drawn, we should require that they at least have verified the facts in the search warrant.

Thanks to The Agitator for inspiring this story.

-Robert S. Guest

After the debate on the whole issue of cops getting off on tickets because they're cops I figured this would spark some life back into Off Topic. (It's been pretty dead in here lately)



as a matter of fact i dont have 5$
Aug 23, 2002
those who will bargain liberty for security deserve neither.

Fr. Dougal

Registered User
Feb 17, 2004
those who will bargain liberty for security deserve neither.
Back in Franklin's time, that was correct. But he didn't have to worry about dirty bombs and the like. I'm sure if he was around nowadays, he'd think twice.

However, that being said... I completely agree with his statement when you apply it to the unreasonable searches.

It's those kinds of personal liberties we can't give up. I don't mind having my bag searched in the city. But cops busting into my home, no fuckin' way dude.


Registered User
Aug 5, 2004
Kennesaw, GA
Secure the borders properly and the dirty bombs won't be an issue. Stop pissing people off and no one will want to kill us. Well, maybe not no one. But the numbers wouldn't be there.

I think the growing 'police state' mentality is frightening. Cops don't bother doing stakeouts anymore, they just bust down doors and ask questions later. Police have gotten themselves all jacked up on Homeland Security money and are buying themselves all kinds of paramilitary gear, then getting those big dick egos and doing whatever they want.


Registered User
Jun 9, 2007
Perhaps if we were not assigned various State issued identification numbers, did not live in a credit-controlled society, and did not have laws that centralize personal information (making it easy pickings for a thief), there would be less of an identity theft problem.

For now though, I think this interpretation demonstrates that the Supreme Court is an utter joke and serves only to give the illusion that this is a free society. What they said in this decision is that the State assigns itself priority over the individual.

Part of being in public service and by extension a police officer is opening yourself up to risk. That is why it is fair to historically consider them very brave people. Instead, today the courts, as in this case, use the doctrine of force protection: it is better to violate liberties than put to risk a public official.

There are those chiming in that 'it's a more complicated world today in our post...' First of all, that is utter BS. But even if we were to accept that false assertion, this case had NOTHING to do with 'terror' or 'bombs' or 'scary tan people.' There was an alleged ID theft and the modern police, in hyper Soviet Cheka form, go so far as to raid people in their homes on a whim, often thanks to an informant looking for more crack money.

I have an idea: all of you modern police staters (which seem to be fewer and fewer in general, and a minority on this forum) go to one state and run your own government based on State supremacy. Us pro-liberty folks will go to New Hampshire and we will see who fairs better economically and socially.

Fr. Dougal

Registered User
Feb 17, 2004
There are those chiming in that 'it's a more complicated world today in our post...' First of all, that is utter BS.
If you're referring to my post, learn to read. I was talking about the Franklin quote. Not this particular issue. I actually agree with the fact that's what the police did was a violation of rights.



Any person who breaks down my door while I'm sleeping had better hope they don't give me any reason to confuse them with someone there to harm my family. They'll be dead before they hit the floor.

There's maybe a handful of times a year that a broken-door entry is absolutely necessary. Middle of the night on identity theft? Please.