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A police officer holds his dog on a leash after demonstrating a narcotic search on a vehicle in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Aug.
Cops can’t continue to hold a suspect without probable cause even for the few minutes they might need to wait for a drug-sniffing dog to show up, the Supreme Court said Tuesday. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the 6-3 majority that if a traffic stop is otherwise completed, holding on to the suspect any longer violates the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The US Supreme Court Wednesday heard oral arguments in a pair of cases out of Florida involving the use of drug sniffing dogs. Gregory Garre, arguing for the state of Florida, ran into problems with some justices when he suggested that a drug dog sniff of a residence does not constitute a search under the law and thus no warrant is needed. Justice Elena Kagan also questioned Garre's rationale that a drug dog sniff was somehow different from a technology that allowed police to see inside a home -- such as the thermal imaging the court had previously ruled against.
Jardines' attorney, Howard Blumberg, argued that the thermal imaging precedent applied to drug dogs at a home as well. Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a deciding vote on the closely divided court, challenged Garre on his contention that people with contraband in their homes have no expectation of privacy. But Kennedy was also reluctant to accept Blumberg's argument that when police are trying to find something people are keeping secret, it amounts to a search under the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited an Australian study that found a drug dog only correctly identified drugs 12% of the time. Garre responded that the study could be read differently, raising the number of correct alerts to as high as 70% -- if you included instances where the person the dog alerted to had used in been in contact with drug prior to the dog's alert.
Corrupt Police are alleged to train drug sniff dogs to give false drug alerts on cue—so that police can circumvent the Fourth Amendment to search vehicles and other property. A drug sniffing dog named Nikka is the last certified member of the police force in the eastern New Mexico town of Vaughn. In a unanimous reversal of a lower court ruling, the Supreme Court today rejected the notion that a distinct, "bright-line" test is necessary to determine whether a drug-sniffing dog can provide probable cause for a warrantless search of a truck. Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the unanimous opinion that the court applies a "common-sensical standard" in determining probable cause for a search, one which considers the totality of circumstances. In trial court, Harris sought to suppress the evidence on the grounds that Aldo's alert had not given Wheetley probable cause for a search.


The trial court denied the motion, but the Florida Supreme Court reversed that decision, declaring that a wide array of evidence was always necessary to establish probable cause, including a narcotics dog's field performance records.
In her opinion, Kagan wrote that the Florida Supreme Court "flouted" the established approach to determining probable cause.
This case is one in a series of cases the Supreme Court has taken up relating to drug-sniffing dogs. The Supreme Court of Canada will rule Friday on two cases that are expected to clarify the rules around the use of police drug-sniffing dogs.
A Supreme Court of Canada ruling to be released tomorrow is expected to clarify what constitutes "reasonable suspicion" of criminal activity that would justify the use of a police sniffer dog. The court has considered two cases where police didn't have much to go on before deploying drug detector dogs on men who were transporting drugs.
The two Mounties conducted a police check and found nothing on MacKenzie but decided to deploy Levi, the drug detector dog they had with them that day. The questions for the Supreme Court are whether police breached the two men's charter rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and if their cases met the "reasonable suspicion" threshold for deploying a sniffer dog.
On appeal though, both acquittals were overturned, with the judges disagreeing with the lower courts and finding the Mounties did have reasonable suspicion to deploy the dogs. But Ginsburg wrote that Struble didn’t have probable cause to search the vehicle, and that by dallying long enough for the dog to arrive and provide probable case, he violated the Constitution.
One case is about whether it is legal to use drug dogs to sniff around the outside of homes without a warrant and the other is about how reliable the drug dogs actually are.
Joelis Jardines, in which Jardines was arrested for marijuana cultivation after police without a search warrant brought a drug dog to his door, then returned with a search warrant after the drug dog alerted, and Florida v.
The Supreme Court has upheld the warrantless use of drug dogs in those cases, but has been inclined to grant greater protections to the sanctity of the home, rejecting, for example, the use of thermal imaging equipment to detect marijuana grow operations.
Last year, the Chicago Tribune analyzed three years of data from suburban police departments and found that alerts from dogs during roadside encounters led to drugs or paraphernalia just 44% of the time, and only 27% of the time for Hispanic drivers. That applies to a drug sniffing dog's alert, as it would to any other basis for probable cause. Harris, is that the trained narcotics dog (named Aldo) did not find the drugs he was trained to find when he prompted an officer to search Clayton Harris' truck.


Once he was out on bail, Harris was stopped once again by Wheetley, and Aldo once again gave an alert to search.
His lawyer didn't contest the quality of Aldo's training as a narcotics dog, but she did note that Aldo's certification was expired.
The court has already upheld the use of narcotics dogs at airports and during traffic stops. Harris, including more than 20 state attorneys general who wanted the Supreme Court to overturn the Florida Supreme Court's decision. Upon arrival in Halifax on a red-eye flight from Vancouver, the Mounties' sniffer dog Boris pointed out Chelil's suitcase, which contained more than three kilograms of cocaine. In each case, the judges ruled the police did not have reasonable, objective grounds to search the two men. The dog at the Halifax International Airport detected cocaine in Chelil's bag but got it wrong when it pointed to another passenger's luggage that did not contain drugs. Once Officer Morgan Struble had completed writing a warning, he then kept Rodriguez by the side of the road for seven or eight minutes waiting for the dog to show up and sniff the car for possible drugs. The cases have the potential to either expand or restrict the use of drug dogs under Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Clayton Harris, in which Harris was arrested on methamphetamine charges after a drug dog alerted on his vehicle, but was stopped again two months later in the same vehicle and the same drug dog alerted, but no drugs were found.
Corrupt Police that train dogs to give false drug alerts to search property, may plant evidence supposedly discovered by their drug dog to make arrests and seize property.
The search didn't turn up anything Aldo was trained to find, but it did reveal pseudoephedrine and other ingredients for producing methamphetamine.
That case focuses on whether an officer needed a warrant before bringing his drug-sniffing dog to the front door of a house in which marijuana was suspected to be growing.



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