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Search and Seizure: Minnesota Supreme Court Okays Drug Dog Sniff Outside Apartment Door

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled May 24 that police need only articulable suspicion -- not the higher standard of probable cause -- to be able to use a drug sniffing dog to sniff the outside door of a person's residence. The 5-2 decision sparked a bitter dissent.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/drugdog.jpg
drug dog
The ruling came in Minnesota v. Davis, in which Burnsville police were informed by maintenance workers in an apartment complex that they thought they saw marijuana grow lights and that Evans would not let them in the apartment to fix a water leak. Based on that information, police brought a drug dog to the location, and the dog reacted outside the apartment door. Police then used the maintenance workers' information, the drug dog alert, and Davis's past criminal record to obtain a search warrant, which resulted in the finding of various items of contraband and three drug charges against Davis.

At trial, Davis moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that police needed probable cause to sic a drug dog on his apartment door because the drug dog sniff of his door exterior actually amounted to a "search" of his apartment, thus requiring probable cause. He lost at the trial court, which concluded that police needed only articulable suspicion and had met that standard. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, and now the state Supreme Court has reaffirmed it.

While the state constitution requires the courts to balance individuals' privacy interest against the public interest in effective law enforcement, the state Supreme Court held that the intrusion into Davis's privacy was so minimal as to not require the higher standard of probable cause. The only intrusion into Davis's privacy occurred because the dog could sniff what the public could not. "This intrusion, however, is minimal," Justice Gildea wrote for the majority.

"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 report from maintenance workers rose to the level of articulable suspicion, the opinion added.

Justice Alan Page, joined by Justice Helen Meyer, strongly 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." Unfortunately, Page was in the minority.

Mexico to boost tapping of phones and e-mail with U.S. aid

Location: 
Mexico City
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico25may25,0,7011563.story?coll=la-home-center

Rising number of home drug-test kits sold, despite experts' opposition

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Dallas Morning News
URL: 
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/fea/healthyliving2/stories/DN-nh_drugtest_0522liv.ART.State.Edition1.4386266.html

Big Island rejects federal funds for war on pot

Location: 
HI
United States
Publication/Source: 
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
URL: 
http://starbulletin.com/2007/05/18/news/story02.html

Drug war has come under fire

Location: 
Apatzingan
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Chicago Tribune
URL: 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0705170834may18,1,3948220.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

Pregnancy: New Mexico Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Criminalizing Drug Use By Mothers-To-Be

In a case that pitted hard-nosed legislators and prosecutors against an array of women's rights, public health, medical, and drug reform groups, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled May 11 that a state law expanding criminal child abuse laws to include drug use by pregnant women was unconstitutional. In a summary opinion, the state high court upheld a state Court of Appeals decision that reached the same conclusion.

The ruling came in the case of Cynthia Martinez, who was charged with felony child abuse in 2003 after her newborn child tested positive for cocaine. Under the law in question, she was charged with "permitting a child under 18 years of age to be placed in a situation that may endanger the child's life or health" by ingesting illicit drugs while pregnant.

While the state argued that a pregnant woman who is addicted to drugs should be sent to jail as a felony child abuser, both the appeals court and the state Supreme Court disagreed. During oral arguments, the justices appeared to be particularly concerned about issues raised in an amicus curiae brief submitted by the Drug Policy Alliance and National Advocates for Pregnant Women on behalf of nearly three dozen other leading medical and public health organizations, physicians, and scientific researchers. The justices repeatedly mentioned the DPA/NAPW brief and expressed grave concerns about the deterrent effect such prosecutions would have on women seeking prenatal care.

Such rulings are critical to avoid criminalizing poor women, said NAPW staff attorney Tiloma Jayasinghe. "Making child abuse laws applicable to pregnant women and fetuses would, by definition, make every woman who is low-income, uninsured, has health problems, and/or is battered who becomes pregnant a felony child abuser," she explained. "In oral argument, the state's attorney conceded that the law could potentially be applied to pregnant women who smoked."

Szczepanski said, "I hope that this case serves as a reminder that pregnant women who are struggling with drug use should be offered prenatal care and drug treatment, not prosecution. There are better ways to protect our children in New Mexico, and ensure that future generations will be safe and healthy."

Full Investigation: Army Recruiters Pre-Screening for Drugs

Location: 
TX
United States
Publication/Source: 
WOAI (TX)
URL: 
http://www.woai.com/mostpopular/story.aspx?content_id=38060e5c-48f1-469e-8332-a9e2164ffe3c

Officers don’t have a problem with medical marijuana

Location: 
MN
United States
Publication/Source: 
Winona Daily News (MN)
URL: 
http://www.winonadailynews.com/articles/2007/05/12/opinion/letters/let1.txt

Drug test documents end up on street

Location: 
Lubbock, TX
United States
Publication/Source: 
UPI
URL: 
http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2007/05/11/drug_test_documents_end_up_on_street/3450/

USA Today Takes Firm Stance on Student Drug Testing: Neutral

The editors at USA Today attempt to tackle student drug testing on the Opinion page, only to become hopelessly confused and fail to form an opinion:
Advocates of testing say it gives students a powerful reason to say no to peer pressure…

Critics are just as passionate, arguing that the tests are invasive and expensive, and that studies show testing doesn't deter drug use. In truth, data conflict, and both sides can point to studies that back their position.

What's missing is definitive research that would allow schools to make confident decisions balancing costs against benefits.
In truth, the debate over drug testing research is utterly fake and contrived. When the largest study ever on student drug testing -- funded by NIDA -- found that it didn’t work, drug testing proponents/profiteers (they're often the same) fired back, criticizing the methodology. Under attack from the very people who hired them, the authors responded with further research and achieved the same result.

USA Today's arbitrary dismissal of authoritative data is frustrating, but they're equally skeptical of smaller studies cited by drug testing proponents. One wonders, then, why they're calling for more research when they're already overwhelmed by the data.

Moreover, the practice of collecting urine from students on a massive scale is itself so objectionable that great weight should be given to any indication that the program's value is dubious. To place the burden of proof on those who oppose visually-monitored urination is absurd.

Update: After writing this but before posting it, I noticed this excellent piece by Marsha Rosenbaum, which ran in the same edition. If USA Today's editorial can be understood as an attempt to debate her, they've certainly done so without much conviction.
Location: 
United States

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