Tag: canine searches

Supreme Court Rules Against Warrantless Canine Sniffs at Homes

The Supreme Court has taken a step to keep the 4th Amendment from going to the dogs. It ruled today that police may not use the fruits of a warrantless dog search at the front door to a residence as probable cause for a search warrant. The case is Jardines v. Florida and the opinion, written by Justice Scalia, is here.


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Supreme Court Upholds Dog Search

The Supreme Court today issued its opinion in Florida v. Harris, ruling that extensive reliability evidence is not necessary for probable cause for a dog search. The opinion is here.

Justice Elena Kagan said the Florida court had gone too far, and suggested that proper training and certification of the dog — rather than how it has performed in the field — might be enough for law enforcement’s purposes.


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The Fallibility of Drug Sniffing Dogs

Radley Balko has a new article at Reason, The Mind of a Police Dog, discussing reasons why drug dogs are not as accurate as police and courts assume. It may not be the dog's fault:

The problem is our confusion about when dogs are picking up a scent and when they are responding to cues from their handlers.

....The problem is that a dog barking or sitting may be responding not to a smell but to his handler's hunch about a suspect's guilt. The reason we have a Fourth Amendment is precisely to prevent searches based on hunches.

Courts don't require warrants for K-9 searches, yet they conclude that a positive hit is probable cause for a search.

A recent Chicago Tribune study found the dogs are frequently wrong. More on the study here, and from Jacob Sullum, in A Drug-Sniffing Coin Would be Cheaper. Once again, the Fourth Amendment is going to the dogs.

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