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Groh v. Ramirez

United States Supreme Court
540 U.S. 551 (2004)



In February 1997, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Agent Jeff Groh (defendant) received information that Joseph Ramirez and his family (plaintiffs) had a large number of weapons on their ranch in Montana. Groh presented an application for a warrant to search the ranch for various weapons and documents and a comprehensive supporting affidavit to a Magistrate. The Magistrate signed the warrant form Groh had prepared. The warrant form did not name and describe the items to be seized or incorporate the supporting documents by reference. The supporting documents were not provided to the plaintiffs with the warrant, but Groh did describe the items to be seized to the plaintiffs orally. The plaintiffs filed civil suit against Groh and other police officers, but the district court found no Fourth Amendment violation and granted summary judgment to the defendants. The Court of Appeals held that the warrant was invalid because it did not describe the place to be searched and items to be seized.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Thomas, J.)

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Questions & Answers

How do I get time to read the warrant?

What should I do to ensure the police does not come inside my house until I have read the warrant?
In movies, we see police come in, slap the warrant on the chest of the subject and walk in?
Can I as the police to slide the warrant under the door first and ask them time to read it?
Can I open the door and ask to see the warrant before I allow entry?
Can I open the door just a bit with the chain still attached and ask for the warrant and time to read it?
What if the police does not give me time to read the warrant and just walk in? Do I have some relief even if the warrant is valid or only if the warrant is invalid?

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