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SCOTUS: Drug Dogs Used Outside Your Home


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#1 CatofWar

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 08:36 AM

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Miami-Dade County Police Department K-9 “Franky” has discovered more than 2.5 tons of marijuana. Photo: Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Police Department
The Supreme Court on Wednesday is set to hold oral arguments concerning the novel question of whether judges may issue search warrants for private residences when a drug-sniffing dog outside the home reacts as if it smells drugs inside.

In a second case involving drug-sniffing dogs, the justices also will entertain arguments Wednesday concerning a Florida Supreme Court decision allowing defendants to challenge the authenticity of a drug sniff, by bringing up past evidence of false alerts and how well-trained the dog and handler were.

The home-sniff case, also arriving from the Florida Supreme Court, tests a decade-old U.S. Supreme Court precedent in which the justices ruled that police need a warrant to use thermal-imaging devices outside a house to detect marijuana-growing operations, saying it amounted to a search. In that case, the high court ruled in 2001 that “rapidly advancing technology” threatens the core of the Fourth Amendment “right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.”

Wednesday’s argument in the home-search case concerns a suspected Florida drug dealer and tests the limits of government intrusion into the home — substituting drug-sniffing dogs for thermal-imaging devices. The justices and lower courts have routinely sanctioned search warrants based on trained drug-detecting dogs responding to packages like airport luggage or vehicles stopped during routine traffic stops.

The issue is being watched closely by at least 18 states that warned the Supreme Court that the case “jeopardizes a widely used method of detecting illegal drugs” (.pdf). The Obama administration has also weighed in, telling the justices that a drug-sniffing dog’s duties amount to no search at all (.pdf) — and hence no Fourth Amendment scrutiny is warranted.

The case before the justices stems from a Florida Supreme Court ruling last year in which Florida’s justices tossed evidence of 179 pot plants that Miami-Dade County authorities seized from the residence of Joelis Jardines in 2006. Authorities made the bust after a trained dog “alerted,” or indicated that it detected drugs, while outside the home.

Florida’s top court said the case, which comes as studies suggest drug-sniffing dogs reflect police bias or are wrong, sets a bad precedent and “invites overbearing and harassing conduct.”

Such a public spectacle unfolding in a residential neighborhood will invariably entail a degree of public opprobrium, humiliation and embarrassment for the resident, for such dramatic government activity in the eyes of many — neighbors, passers-by, and the public at large — will be viewed as an official accusation of crime. Further, if government agents can conduct a dog ‘sniff test’ at a private residence without any prior evidentiary showing of wrongdoing, there is nothing to prevent the agents from applying the procedure in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner, or based on whim and fancy, at the home of any citizen. Such an open-ended policy invites overbearing and harassing conduct.

The dog used to nab Jardines was Franky, a chocolate Labrador. Miami-Dade County officials said the canine, now retired, discovered more than 2.5 tons of marijuana, 80 pounds of cocaine and millions in cash during its career.

Jardines’ attorney, Howard Blumberg, urged the justices to uphold the Florida Supreme Court. He said the government’s deployment of a dog was akin to the “device” (.pdf) used in the thermal-imaging case. The dog, like thermal imaging equipment, was used “to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion.”

Florida prosecutors told the high court that it must undo the Florida Supreme Court decision, saying dog searches are a “valuable tool” (.pdf).

Law enforcement is significantly hampered if required to develop probable cause without the assistance of dogs. The Florida Supreme Court’s decision requires that the officers have probable cause before employing a dog. It is the dog’s alert, however, that often provides the probable cause to obtain the search warrant. This Court should grant certiorari to directly hold that a dog sniff of a house is not a search and to restore this valuable tool in the detection of numerous illegal and dangerous activities to law enforcement.

In the other case to be argued Wednesday, the Florida Supreme Court last year invalidated a search that found meth-making chemicals in the vehicle Clayton Harris was driving, and suppressed the evidence that was seized based on an alert by Aldo, a Labrador retriever. The court said an alert by the truck’s door handle was insufficient evidence by itself to get a warrant to search Harris’ truck. Florida’s high court said other evidence was required, like the dog’s track record, and records regarding the handler’s and the dog’s background and training.

The Florida high court said that the courts always side with the dog “with an almost superstitious faith” and that “the dog is the clear and consistent winner.”

The Supreme Court justices usually rule weeks or months after arguments. There is no opinion-detecting dog that can help predict when a ruling is ready or how the court will rule.
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http://www.wired.com...otus-drug-dogs/




#2 thatlookseasy

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 09:18 AM

Open and shut case. If you cant use thermal imaging devices to look inside a home without a warrant, you sure as hell cant walk a drug dog past a guys house and use that as evidence to bust him.

#3 MadHatter

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 10:25 AM

Open and shut case. If you cant use thermal imaging devices to look inside a home without a warrant, you sure as hell cant walk a drug dog past a guys house and use that as evidence to bust him.


How is that different than an officer walking past someone's home and seeing drugs through an open window or hearing someone from inside the house.....it am officer pulling you over and smelling the odor of drugs from your car.

Not sure where this one will go, but I don't think it us as cut and dry as you think.

#4 Mvp2014

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 10:51 AM

This is not to bust the average citizen. These tactics will be used against known drug operations that they have already investigated or received legit tips on. It's not like they are going to be walking dogs around people's houses for the hell of it.

#5 Floppin

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 10:58 AM

This is not to bust the average citizen. These tactics will be used against known drug operations that they have already investigated or received legit tips on. It's not like they are going to be walking dogs around people's houses for the hell of it.


I've seen police walk drug dogs down the sidewalk in black neighborhoods before, doing knock and searches on any house that they hit on. You need to wake the fug up my man.

#6 Inimicus

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:09 AM

Without the existence of any other probable cause Id think that the random use of dogs on sidewalks would violate the 4th amendment. Just like without other PC a cop cant detain you on a traffic stop and call for a dog, he shouldn't be allowed to parade a dog up and down a sidewalk until he gets a "hit".

#7 Mvp2014

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:17 AM

I've seen police walk drug dogs down the sidewalk in black neighborhoods before, doing knock and searches on any house that they hit on. You need to wake the fug up my man.

Dammmn. I have never seen anything like that and I work right beside the southside projects. Even If, I don't think they would charge anyone unless they had intent to distribute.

#8 MadHatter

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:48 PM

I've seen police walk drug dogs down the sidewalk in black neighborhoods before, doing knock and searches on any house that they hit on. You need to wake the fug up my man.


There you go again......the man is just out to get innocent african americans.

This is getting old.

#9 thatlookseasy

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:52 PM

How is that different than an officer walking past someone's home and seeing drugs through an open window or hearing someone from inside the house.....it am officer pulling you over and smelling the odor of drugs from your car.

Not sure where this one will go, but I don't think it us as cut and dry as you think.


Because there is a reasonable right to privacy. This isnt like an officer seeing something through a window or hearing people yelling- those things are public knowledge. The car is clearly different (as proven in the courts numerous times).

This is a policeman using a specialized tool (the dog) to find out about details about what is going on in a private citizen's home that the police would not know otherwise (ie not public knowledge). It is almost exactly like the heat sensor, except the tool being used is an animal instead of a machine.

Bottom line, if there is such a thing as privacy in your own home in this country, you cant allow this kind of thing.

#10 venom

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:56 PM

There you go again......the man is just out to get innocent african americans.

This is getting old.


Why are you trying to turn his point into a race thing?

#11 venom

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:59 PM

Some of you people really need to wake up. I bet if the gov't set up mandatory door-to-door inspections on everyone of you guys would find some reason to justify it.

#12 venom

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:02 PM

Damn drug dogs are trained to make everyone look guilty, haha. How is it that we've gotten to this point where dogs are put in positions of investigative authority...this concept is totally ridiculous.

#13 Floppin

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:04 PM

There you go again......the man is just out to get innocent african americans.

This is getting old.


You're the one that makes that leap. All I said was that I had seen it happen in a black neighborhood. Two in fact; one in Statesville and one in Lenoir. I would assume that the same would be done in a poor white neighborhood, if deemed as a drug area.

It's not my fault that you assume all poor black people are guilty.

Here's another example, although I'm sure most of you will pass it off as permissible. Watauga High School, and in fact most high schools with their own regional PD, partners up with the Boone PD to do random sweeps of their student parking lots and locker areas with Dogs. A few students every year are charged with charges ranging from gun to drug possession and subsequently suspended or expelled from school.

#14 thefuzz

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:08 PM

Snowball affect.

I am so tired of the federal/state/local government pushing the limits of the law.

Wait until they can pull you over in a car for a safety inspection, like they do boats now.

#15 thatlookseasy

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 02:04 PM

Damn drug dogs are trained to make everyone look guilty, haha. How is it that we've gotten to this point where dogs are put in positions of investigative authority...this concept is totally ridiculous.


The problem with drug dogs is that there is always a person who has to be there to "interpret" a dog's actions. I had a friend who was pulled over by the cops after running a red. Obviously, the officer smelled weed and brought a dog to search the car.

Nothing wrong so far obviously, but then one of the guys in the car had a backpack with him, and the cop decided he wanted to search it. He put the bag on the street, led the dog over to it. Dog turned away (there wasnt any weed in the bag obviously), but the cop wasnt done. Led the dog back to the bag, patted it. Dog turned away again. Cop doesnt take no for an answer, points the dog at the bag once more, dog pauses and gives it a sniff, turns back to the car.

Officer decides at that point that the dog "marked" the backpack, so he opens it up and finds a 5th of vodka, no weed. The kid gets an underage alcohol charge. He was white btw (not that it matters)


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