US Supreme Court Upholds Drug Dog Search of Truck

The US Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the use of police dog's sniff of a truck, finding that training and testing records were sufficient indicators of the dog's reliability and gave police probable cause for the search. The high court in 2005 upheld the legality of highway drug dog searches; in this case, the court focused on the reliability of drug dog searches.

In deciding the case, the high court reversed a decision from the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida court had held that a wide array of evidence was necessary to establish probable cause for the search, including field performance records that would indicate how many times the dog had falsely alerted. Without such records, the Florida court held, police could not establish probable cause.

Tuesday's ruling came in Florida v. Harris, in which Clayton Harris had been pulled over by a police officer in Liberty County in 2006. The drug dog, Aldo, alerted to the truck's door handle, the officer searched the truck, and methamphetamine precursor chemicals were found. Clayton was arrested on meth-related charges.

Harris was again pulled over by the same officer while out on bail, and Aldo again alerted on his vehicle. This time the vehicle search came up empty. Harris's attorneys challenged Aldo's reliability in part because of this second alert that turned up nothing. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with their argument that the dog's performance in the field needed to be assessed in order to determine probable cause for the search.

But not the US Supreme Court. It unanimously reversed the decision.

A drug dog's "satisfactory performance" in a certification or training program provided sufficient probable cause to trust its alert, Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority. "The question -- similar to every inquiry into probable cause -- is whether all the facts surrounding a dog's alert, viewed through the lens of common sense, would make a reasonably prudent person think that a search would reveal contraband or evidence of a crime," Kagan wrote. "A sniff is up to snuff when it meets that test."

The case is one of two Florida drug dog cases before the Supreme Court this session. In the other, the high court takes up the question of whether a drug dog can sniff the front doorstep of a home without a search warrant. The Supreme Court has upheld drug dog searches of vehicles on the highway and packages at delivery service warehouses, but in other cases has shown greater deference to Fourth Amendment requirements at residences.

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Far reaching effects...

This is a disaster.  With this supreme court ruling, what is stopping the police from walking up and down the street with dogs, going to every residence.. if the dog barks, instant probable cause...

Animal Abuse

Why should a Human cop take any responsibility in a search ? Let`s just turn that over to a dog .  Is it possible that the owner/handler and provider of food and water to the dog could cause the dog to alert by some sort of action by its handler ? Surely not . Hitler would be proud .

Sniffer Dogs Smarter Than U.S. Supreme Court Justices

Enterprising sniffer dogs know to go on alert when their handlers make some kind of sub-conscious cue.  It’s called the Clever Hans Effect, named after a horse called Hans who used his hoof to tap out the sums to small addition problems.

Police can pull a Clever Hans on any motorist they choose.  That means they can bypass 4th Amendment protections regarding search and seizure at any time.  The court decision ushers in a new era of police and judicial corruption.  

The best option, in all these drug cases, seems to be to never let a case involving civil liberties get as far as the Supreme Court. 

Drug Dog Corruption

The problem is that many of he dogs cops run on people are not drug dogs at all but are pets they bring in from home. They simply get the people out of the car and walk the dog to where it is hard or impossible for the people to see and scream..."He Hit, He Hit" when the dog did nothing. Of course the police video disappears and the illegal search they perform holds even though it was a total con job. They traitorously stomp on the people's Constitution rights and feel justified - the ends overweighs the means. This type of crap is why people develop hatred for the police. A crook in a blue jacket is still just another crook. And yes, I personally witnessed this happen.

50/50

In recent studies it was found that the dog would hit 50% of the time.Some cue on responses from their handler.It's just another way the police use to justify what would otherwise be an illegal search.It's a backup for the officers profiling.

Let’s allow more of our

Let’s allow more of our rights to be eroded. It is getting to the point where the police are pulling you over for just about anything and asking to search the vehicle and if you say no then they get a dog to come out and “hit” on something to give them “probable cause” this is circumventing the 4th Ammendment. The Constitution is under attack.

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