Newsbrief: New Hampshire Supreme Court Says Garbage is Protected Property 10/3/03

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

This week's Drug War Chronicle includes not one but two articles about garbage. This is the first. The second appears below or at http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/305/garbage2.shtml.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court rule ruled Monday that police may not search someone's curbside garbage without a warrant. The ruling is in contradiction to a 1998 US Supreme Court ruling and similar rulings in other states, but the court held that the New Hampshire constitution creates a much stronger expectation of privacy than the US Constitution. In doing so, it explicitly embraced a "right to privacy" inherent in the New Hampshire constitution.

The ruling came in the case of John Goss, who was convicted of marijuana possession after police obtained a search warrant based on what they found when they peeked in the tied black plastic garbage bags he left at the roadside to be picked up by trash haulers. In their affidavit supporting the search warrant, police cited wire scrapers with marijuana residue as providing probable cause for the warrant.

In the subsequent raid on his home, police seized a small amount of marijuana and three pipes. Goss was found guilty and appealed, arguing that the warrantless garbage search was illegal.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed. "Personal letters, bills, receipts, prescription bottles and similar items that are regularly disposed of in household trash disclose information about the resident that few people would want to be made public," wrote Justice Joseph Nadeau for the majority. "Nor do we believe that people voluntarily expose such information to the public when they leave trash, in sealed bags, out for regular collection."

In its 1998 case, California vs. Greenwood, the US Supreme Court disagreed. "Society would not accept as reasonable [a] claim to an expectation of privacy in trash left for collection in an area accessible to the public," the justices wrote in upholding a similar warrantless garbage search case.

But in one indication of actual social attitudes toward going through people's garbage, after Portland, Oregon, police admitted doing trash searches last year, the local alternative paper the Willamette Weekly turned the tables. The Weekly's intrepid reporters searched the garbage of Portland Mayor Vera Katz and then-Police Chief Mark Kroeker and published personal information about the two gleaned from the garbage. The high officials, who had supported such searches against suspects, screamed to high heaven when it happened to them.

As for the US Supreme Court's finding, the New Hampshire jurists recognized it but found it wanting. "We acknowledge that the United States Supreme Court has held to the contrary... We are free, however, to construe our State Constitution to provide greater protection than the Federal Constitution... We do so here."

Visit http://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2003/goss120.htm to read the opinion online.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #305, 10/3/03 Editorial: Rush Limbaugh and Oxycontin | Hurwitz Arrest Galvanizes Opposition to Justice Jihad Against Pain Doctors | Swiss Marijuana Legalization, Prescription Heroin Blocked by Parliament | "Rough Riders" Go Free For Now: Suburban Jury Fails to Convict Oakland Police Rogues | Drug Czar Office Safe for Now: House Votes for Five More Years of Same Old Drug War, Senate Vote Pending | Newsbrief: Hemp Food Industry Sees Looming Victory in DEA Battle | Newsbrief: New Hampshire Supreme Court Says Garbage is Protected Property | Newsbrief: Canadians Smuggling Marijuana in Garbage Exports to United States | Newsbrief: Alaska Marijuana Initiative Back on Track | Newsbrief: Eleven Years for Selling Baking Soda | Newsbrief: Barbarism in Office -- Australian Mayor Calls for Lethal Injections for Drug Users | Newsbrief: New South Wales Medical Marijuana Approval | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]