Supreme Court Will Hear Cases on Drug-Sniffing Dogs

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled this week to hear two cases related to drug-sniffing dogs. Florida is appealing two decisions by the state’s highest court, which ruled the detection of drugs by police dogs violated the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Reuters reports the issue in one case is whether a dog can sniff outside a home without a warrant, while the other case revolves around how qualified a dog must be in order to sniff for drugs.

The cases could limit or extend earlier court decisions that have given police wide latitude in using dogs in situations including sniffing suitcases at airports, and sniffing cars stopped at checkpoints.

“If the court vindicates the ability of police to use dogs without probable cause, and that a sniff outside a car justifies searching that car, it could enhance their ability to use dogs for law enforcement,” Richard Garnett, a University of Notre Dame law professor and clerk for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, told Reuters.

One case centers on Franky, a drug-sniffing chocolate Labrador retriever. Florida’s Supreme Court ruled the dog’s ability to detect marijuana growing inside a home in Miami by sniffing outside the house was unconstitutional. The state’s attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the ruling.

Franky, who recently retired after seven years with the Miami-Dade Police Department, is responsible for the seizure of more than 2.5 tons of marijuana and $4.9 million in drug-contaminated money.

The other case involves Aldo, a German shepherd. After the dog detected drugs in a pickup truck, a police officer searched the truck and found 200 pseudoephedrine pills and 8,000 matches, which are used to make methamphetamine. The Florida Supreme Court ruled the state did not show the dog’s reliability as a drug detector.

The article notes decisions in both cases are expected by the end of June.

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    November 5, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    In 2012 lawsuits were filed against police departments by police officers and drug-dog trainers that alleged some police dog trainers have secretly trained their dogs on cue to give a false drug alert so that police can circumvent getting a warrant to search vehicles; that drug dog trainers were sharing in assets forfeited that resulted from their drug dogs searching vehicles. If police will fabricate evidence to search Citizens’ vehicles, dishonest police may plant drugs to seize property.

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