Newsbrief: Georgia Supreme Court Says Wife Can't Consent to Search of Home Against Husband's Will 11/12/04

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In a Monday ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court held that police may not conduct a warrantless search of a home based on the consent of one spouse over the objection of the other. In a 4-3 ruling, the court threw out evidence of cocaine use by Americus attorney Scott Fitz Randolph, who was arrested after his wife called police to their home and showed them what she said was proof of his drug habit.

In the opinion, Justice Robert Benham said the home of two people who "have equal use and control of the premises" cannot be the subject of a warrantless search if one occupant gives consent "in the face of the refusal of another occupant who is physically present at the scene."

Randolph was charged with cocaine possession in July 2001, after his wife called police during a domestic disturbance. She told arriving officers Randolph was using large amounts of cocaine and gave them permission to search the house. Over her husband's repeated objections, she took officers to an upstairs bedroom where they found a straw with cocaine residue on it. In a pre-trial appeal, Randolph and his attorneys attempted to have the evidence suppressed, arguing it was the fruit of an unlawful search.

They lost at the trial court level, but won in the court of appeals last December. This week's state Supreme Court decision upholds that ruling. "One person can't trump another person's rights," Randolph's lawyer, W.T. Gamble III, told the Associated Press. "It's different if only one person is home and consents. But when you're both there and one of them objects, that's another story."

Read the decision in Randolph v. State at online.

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Issue #362, 11/12/04 Editorial: The Spirit of Lawfulness | Ever Upward: At Nearly 1.5 Million, US Prison Population at New High | In an Hour of Conservative Ascendancy: Prospects for Drug Reform at the Federal Level During the Next Four Years | Syracuse Reconsiders Drug Policy | Newsbrief: Congressional Drug Warrior Threatens Canada Over Marijuana Legislation | Newsbrief: In New Twist in Thai Drug War, Police Detain and Drug Test Club Goers | Newsbrief: Ann Arbor Officials to Ignore Voters' Will on Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: Georgia Supreme Court Says Wife Can't Consent to Search of Home Against Husband's Will | Newsbrief: Austin, Texas, Cop Killed Enforcing Marijuana Possession Law | Newsbrief: Supreme Court to Look at Drug Dogs in Traffic Stops | This Week in History | The DARE Generation Returns to DC: Students for Sensible Drug Policy 2004 National Conference Next Month | Apply Now to Intern at DRCNet! | Seeking Information, Affiliations, Link Exchanges | The Reformer's Calendar
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