Minnesota Supreme Court OKs Use of K-9s in Search

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by Rammstein, May 30, 2007.

  1. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

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    Minnesota Supreme Court OKs Use of K-9s in Search

    MICHELLE LORE
    The Minnesota Lawyer (Minneapolis, MN)

    Burnsville police acted properly in using a narcotics-detection dog outside the apartment door of a man suspected of illegal drug activity, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled.

    In a 5-2 decision, the court found that police needed only reasonable, articulable suspicion - not probable cause - that the defendant was engaged in illegal activity to conduct the dog sniff. Moreover, information from a private citizen informant - that maintenance workers believed they saw marijuana-growing lights in the apartment and that the defendant would not let the workers in to fix a water leak - supported a finding that the police had reasonable suspicion that there was illegal drug activity inside the apartment.

    Justice Alan Page, joined by Justice Helen Meyer, dissented from the majority's opinion.

    "This case marks a significant departure from our constitutional jurisprudence because it is the first time the court has authorized the search of a private residence based on anything less than probable cause in the absence of exigent circumstances," Page wrote. "It is a departure that takes us down a road that erodes Fourth Amendment protections in one's home. That is a road I am unwilling to go down. "

    The 31-page decision is State v. Davis.

    Eden Prairie attorney Derek A. Patrin, who represented the defendant, views the decision as backsliding. "Minnesota's Supreme Court was heading in the direction of providing increased protection for individuals," he said.

    Patrin explained that the position he advocated - that a dog sniff outside an apartment door is actually a search inside a residence - is one accepted by a minority of other jurisdictions. "But the new guard in the [Minnesota] Supreme Court didn't want to take it that far," he said.

    Patrin noted that drug dogs are certainly not infallible, and there was not much other evidence to support the warrant here. "There should be other investigative tools to use that are less invasive than [a dog sniff]," he said. But this will always be the one that police will use now, he added.

    Dakota County Attorney James C. Backstrom, whose office represented the state at the trial court level, applauded the court's ruling.

    "The decision supports the legitimate and important need of law enforcement to use narcotics-detection dogs to aid in efforts to address a significant problem - the use and distribution of illegal drugs. "

    Citizen informant

    On Aug. 27, 2004, an officer with the Burnsville Police Department obtained a search warrant for defendant Scott Evan Davis' apartment. The application included the following facts:

    ? An apartment complex employee told the officer that maintenance employees believed they observed marijuana-growing lights inside the defendant's apartment and that he would not let them come into his apartment to repair a possible water leak;

    ? A narcotics-detection dog alerted to the presence of a narcotic odor at the door of the defendant's apartment; and

    ? The defendant had a history of criminal activity.

    The officers executed the warrant on Aug. 31, gaining access to the defendant's apartment with a key from management. Various items of contraband were found and the defendant was charged with two counts of controlled substance crimes in the fifth degree and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

    A Dakota County District Court judge denied the motion, concluding that the police needed reasonable, articulable suspicion to use the dog and that the standard was met. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

    Levels of suspicion

    The Supreme Court began by considering the level of suspicion necessary - probable cause or reasonable articulable suspicion - to sustain the use of a narcotics-detection dog in the common hallway of an apartment building.

    The defendant argued that the Minnesota Constitution requires probable cause to sustain the use of the narcotics-detection dog in the hallway outside his apartment because it was, in effect, a search "inside" his private residence.

    Gildea explained that as part of the inquiry, Minnesota courts balance the nature and significance of the intrusion on the individual's privacy interests against the gravity of the public concerns it serves and the degree to which the conduct at issue advances the public interest.

    The issue was whether the level of intrusion upon the defendant's privacy interest - through the police walking a narcotics-detection dog outside his residence in the common hallway - was sufficiently great that it rendered the search "unreasonable" unless it was supported by probable cause.

    In this case, the police did not enter the area in which the defendant had the greatest expectation of privacy, his residence. Rather, they were outside his residence in the common hallway. The defendant, nonetheless, argued that his privacy interest inside his residence was intruded upon because the police conducted the dog sniff to detect something inside his residence.

    The court disagreed, noting that the only intrusion on the defendant's privacy interest that occurred through the use of the dog occurred because the dog can sniff what the public cannot. "This intrusion, however, is minimal," Gildea wrote.

    Because the intrusion was minimal, the court went on to consider the government's interest.

    Prior cases establish that the government has a significant interest in using narcotics-detection dogs in combating drug crimes and that the public's interest in effective criminal investigations is served though the use of this investigative tool, Gildea wrote.

    "When we balance the minimal intrusion on [the defendant's] privacy interests inside his residence against the governmental interest in the use of narcotics-detection dogs as an investigative tool to combat drug crime, we conclude that the police needed a reasonable, articulable suspicion to walk a narcotics-detection dog down the common hallway outside [the defendant's] apartment," Gildea wrote.

    The court explained that the reasonable suspicion standard is consistent with the court's goals of preserving the law enforcement utility of narcotics-detection dogs and ensuring that the police are not allowed to use them "at random and without reason. "

    The high court went on to find that the police in this case had reasonable articulable suspicion to support using the dog outside the defendant's apartment.

    The information from a private citizen informant - that maintenance workers believed they saw marijuana-growing lights in the apartment and that the defendant would not let the workers in to repair a possible water leak - gave officers more than an "unarticulated hunch," the court said.

    "It was reasonable for police to infer from these facts that [the defendant] might be growing marijuana in his apartment," Gildea wrote. "Because the police had a reasonable suspicion that [the defendant] had illegal drugs inside his apartment, [his] rights under the Minnesota Constitution were not violated when the police conducted a dog sniff outside his apartment door. "
    Source
     
  2. GAGunOwner

    GAGunOwner Active Member

    The Constitution is just a piece of paper, or so it seems now.
     

  3. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

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    There would be no expectation of privacy in the common hallway; so, walking the drug dawg down the hallway was not contrary to the Constution. The dawg alerting at the door of the apartment combined with the testimony of the maintenance worker would in my opinion be probable cause for a search warrant. There is no reaseonable suspicion here. I don't understand the wording of the ruling, and the wording of the ruling just may be enough to get it tossed by SCOTUS.
     
  4. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    It will not be tossed by the S.Ct. of U.S. They already went down this path with giving their assent to the heat detection guns being aimed inside homes in that marijuana case out of coastal Oregon.

    No, they will uphold this.

    Pretty soon, they will be able to simply look at you inside your home through a huge telescreen on the wall, oh, and talk to you through it.
     
  5. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

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    The Constitution does not bar a search of a home. It bars the unreasonable search of a home and reuires a sworn PC statement in front of a judge. This search wasn't unreasonable as PC did in fact exist. I just don't understand why they termed this one as a search based on RAS.

    I view this one differently than the heat gun issue as the heat gun in and of itself would not warrant PC in my opinion. A person could be growing roses in their home with the use of a heat lamp/grow lights, and the heat gun wouldn't be able to tell the difference between what type of plant was being grown.
     
  6. tony218

    tony218 New Member

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    didn't i see somewhere that the bad guys were hiding in pot fields
    in afganistan and heat detectors couldn't find them because pot
    had a differant heat sig. or something like that?
     
  7. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    Malum!!! The Supremes reversed and remanded that search, finding that it did require a warrant and was a 4th A violation. I don't know if that means they'll toss this search or not, but you are not quite correct above.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-8508.ZS.html
     
  8. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    I used to live on Rhododendron Drive in Florence Oregon. Yes, they reversed. How did my memory get backwards?

    OK, maybe the telescreens are not on the way.
     
  9. Axeman

    Axeman New Member

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    Are you suggesting we all grow a bunch of pot along the inside perimeter of our homes to block out heat guns? :p :lol:

    Sorry couldn't resist that one. This reminds me of that old movie "Blue Thunder".
     
  10. Tinkerhell

    Tinkerhell Active Member

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    Just line your walls with aluminum foil.
    Don't forget to make the little pointy hat for yourself too.
    :D

    I don't know about this.
    How did the maintenence guys know the person had lamps for pot? Maybe he was growing roses or tomatoes?... The fact that the guy had priors isn't enough to give PC.

    I certainly don't know about case law enough to support it one way or the other but it seems to me that the dog sniffing the home would be an invasion. For luggage or school lockers etc etc I can see the dogs being reasonable but what is that dog smelling? Odors coming from inside the home. Odors that a human can't detect. From a place where a person should have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Doesn't seem good enough to me.
     
  11. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

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    Legacy, would it be reasonable for a dog trained that is trained to sniff out explosives to be sent into the hallways of a housing project and sniff out the cordite from guns?

    (terribly worded sentence, I know.)

    But then again, I think the use of police dogs to find stuff is unreasonable in the first place.
     
  12. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

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    On a techincal note, I spoke with one of our K9 handlers about this, and he said that while not impossible he thought it would be highly unlikely that an explosives dawg would be able to sniff the cordite in the ammo in a room/residence simply by walking down the hallway past the door.

    On another note, you don't have a Constitutional right to possess pot. :wink:

    In the case in question here, it wasn't a total fishing trip. They had the testimony of the maintenance worker, which was confirmed by the dawg. That information was taken before a judge and a ruling was made. I don't view the search in this case as being unreasonable.
     
  13. slabertooch

    slabertooch New Member

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    I agree, now if they had busted this guy and on the way out the dog alerted on another apartment and they raided/searched it, it would be an illegal search.
     
  14. Axeman

    Axeman New Member

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    Being an employee of Georgia Tech, I must express my offense at your spelling of "Dog". :p

    [​IMG]
     
  15. GeorgiaGlocker

    GeorgiaGlocker Romans 1:16

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    I will just install a mirrors on the walls of my home. =;
     
  16. GAGunOwner

    GAGunOwner Active Member

    I was thinking the same thing.
     
  17. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

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    I have degrees from Georgia Military College and The University of Georgia. :)
     
  18. GAGunOwner

    GAGunOwner Active Member

    Under our current laws you also have no constitutional right to posses a firearm while at a public gathering which a publically owned housing project is. :wink:
     
  19. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Under our current laws you have no constitutional right to keep and bear arms at all.

    Brewer v. State, 281 Ga. 283 (2006)
     
  20. Axeman

    Axeman New Member

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    You are starting to depress me. :cry: