Two drug dog cases were heard were on the docket this week at the United States Supreme Court. The use of dogs to detect illegal drugs is on the rise. Criminal defense lawyers and the court’s struggle on when the use of the drug dogs may trigger a Fourth Amendment violation.
The first case involves Franky seen above. Franky was walked around the outside of a house in Florida. Franky signaled to his handler that there were drugs inside. A search warrant was obtained based on Franky’s signal. Surprise. The police found a marijuana growing operation inside. The Supreme Court has always held that the privacy of the home is at the core of what the Fourth Amendment protects . Here is some of the comments from two of the justices;
There was a dispute about how long Franky had spent sniffing around, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer suggested that the answer might affect his analysis.
“Would a homeowner resent someone coming with a large animal sitting in front of his front step on his property and sitting there sniffing for five to 15 minutes?” he asked, indicating that it would not be plausible to assume consent in that situation.
Justice Elena Kagan seemed to agree. “This dog is there for some extended period of time, going back and forth and back and forth, trying to figure out where the greatest concentration of the smell is,” she said, adding that it seemed to be “a lengthy and obtrusive process.”
My prediction is the court will not allow this sort of intrusion on a person’s home.
The second case Florida v. Harris is about Aldo. Aldo helped his trainer find some methamphetamines. The issue in this case was the reliability of the drug dog had not been adequately established. One judge opined that this issue should be left to the trial judges. I agree. It is hard to establish a black line test on what should be qualifications of a drug dog . Prediction. Harris loses.
Two drug dog cases at the court in the same day. Probably two different results will occur.