Drug War

Franky Gets His Day in Court


Last Friday the Supreme Court agreed to hear Florida v. Jardines, which raises the question of whether police need probable cause to use a drug-detecting dog outside someone's home. As I noted last week, the Court has said that a dog sniff in other contexts—luggage inspection at an airport and car inspection during a traffic stop—does not amount to a "search" under the Fourth Amendment and therefore does not require a warrant. The question is whether that same analysis applies to sniffing a residence, where the expectation of privacy is especially strong. Even if we accept the dubious premise that police dogs infallibly detect the presence of contraband and nothing else, using them immediately outside a home certainly seems more intrusive than using them at an airport or on the side of a road. In ruling that such an inspection requires a warrant, the Florida Supreme Court warned that police otherwise would have complete discretion to subject anyone, for any reason, to the "public spectacle" of cops camped out on their doorstep for hours while Franky and his handler conduct what looks an awful lot like a search of a suspect's private property. Furthermore, courts view a dog's "alert" as probable cause for a warrant, even though that signal can be misperceived, triggered by a handler's subconscious cues, erroneously displayed by a poorly trained dog, or simply faked by an officer determined to get a bad guy. The practical result is that probable cause to search anyone's house can be manufactured at any time, unless the courts insist on real evidence before they let the dogs out.

[via the Drug War Chronicle]


NEXT: Reason TV: Who's Lethal? Police or Tasers

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  1. Next: Franky goes to Hollywood. And relaxes.

    1. Do dogs masturbate?

      1. It depends. Do you lick your balls?

        1. Red rocket! Red rocket!

        2. Is that actually masturbation when a dog does it? Is there any science on this?

          1. Is that actually masturbation when a dog does it?

            None of the male dogs I’ve ever had at least. No appearance of the Red Rocket, no orgasm, no genetic material. Just Cleaning Up.

            I imagine there’s no Science on it because plenty of scientists have observed the same of their own dogs, and wouldn’t waste any time or money on answering an obvious question.

          2. (I’m sure you could get a Federal Grant to study it though.)

            1. If you link your study to Climate Change?, you’re sure you could double or triple the amount of that grant.

              1. licking their outer surface introduces more water vapor into the atmosphere, ipso facto, pay me bitches.

  2. Paul Jr. returns $500k of his annual budget to the Treasury because he didn’t use it.

    Principles FTW!!

    1. did he record the swarming horde of congresscritters as they fell upon the pile of money, clawing and tearing mercilessly for their share of the sweet sweet lucre?

  3. shoot the trespassing dog

  4. I have little problem with BOMB sniffing dogs at airports, or anywhere public. However, if a “bomb” sniffing dog alerts his handler to a bag, but it turns out to be drugs, I believe the court should consider it a bad search.

    As to someone’s home, I believe that there must be probable cause from a human source, which is sometimes weak enough, to search. And not from a dog.

  5. While I disagree with the SCOTUS that a dog sniffing your stuff isn’t a search at a traffic stop or an airport, there’s still a big distinction between that and your home. You have to go to the airport or drive your car and while doing so you may encounter cops and drug dogs. But if you’re minding your own business at home, the cops and dogs have to come to you. If that’s not a search I’ll eat my hat.

    The obvious (to me at least) conclusion is that drug dogs are a search no matter where they take place. But we all know they’re not going to walk that one back. So they’ll either have to come up with some BS rationale for saying it’s not a search at the airport but it is at your house, or they’ll say it’s not a search anywhere and the cops can spend all day on your porch with a drug dog if they please.

    1. Yeah, I’d say if they come to your house looking for a particular something, that’s a search. They didn’t just happen by with a drug dog. The dog was (in theory) brought there for the purpose of finding out what was in the house. I don’t see why the level of intrusiveness defines whether or not some action is a search.

      1. if they come to your house looking for a particular something, that’s a search. They didn’t just happen by with a drug dog.

        so, what you’re saying is, they need to start doing random canine patrols nation-wide? then it’s not an illegal search, yeah?

        oh, sorry, it wouldn’t be an “Official Canine Patrol”, they’re just giving the four-legged officers some exercise.

        (give them ideas? sure, why not? it’ll only hasten the coming of The End.)

        1. If I were writing the rules, I’d say “Sure, national canine patrols”, but then the police must stay on public land and everything outside of 5 feet of public land requires a search warrant, dog or not”.

          Then again, if we’d drop this silly drug war, dogs and police and people would be alot safer.

          1. If I were writing the rules, I’d say “Sure, national canine patrols”

            What now?

    2. They usually have to bring the drug dog out to your car, too, after making you wait for 30 minutes while they are on their way. That’s a search.

  6. I’m astonished cops don’t just follow everybody they see who looks “suspicious” and claim to smell weed outside the door. Courts would allow it just about every time.

    1. “”Courts would allow it just about every time.”‘

      Like the cop that claimed he knows what pot sounds like?

      1. But it was the “distinct sounds of breaking foliage”.

        Why do you give our Law Enforcement professionals so little credit?

    2. I think they do, depending on whether you look like you can afford a lawyer.

    3. Cops never would abuse their discretion because of their training and professionalism. This is not an issue for law abiding people.

      Trust me. I am fat. I am Italian. I am a Supreme Court Justice. And I bet I went to a better school than you did. So stop worrying about it.

      1. Your Modern Art Collection is better than mine as well. I concede your superiority and your unquestionable right to trample my liberties.

        All Apologies.

        1. Top Men Wylie. Top Men.

        2. Top Men Wylie. Top Men.

          1. The doubleplus topliest.

  7. Dogs smell anything downwind. Picking up the smell of pot outside a house doesn’t mean that smell came from that house. It could have come from any house in close proximity up wind.

    1. My dogs can “alert” for squirrel with 100% accuracy. Of course they don’t work for the gubmint.

      1. You need to breed those dogs. That way if we ever make squirrels illegal we’ll have infallible squirrel detectors.

        1. Ix-nay on the irrel-squay eliminationist rhetoric, dude. You know who has the real power here, right?

        2. Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on.

          Squirrels AREN’T already illegal?! Of all the fucking prohibitions, THOSE LIL BASTARDS ARE STILL ALLOWED TO RUN FREE!?!?! Inexcusable.

          1. My cat enforces gambol lockdown on any bushy=tailed tree rats entering his territory. If he feels like ‘sharing’, I’ll find the back half of one on my dining room floor.

            1. If I got a cat to enforce squirbol lockdown, my dogs would die of jealousy. Those are THEIR squirrels, regardless of the non-existant possibility of them ever catching one.

          2. They don’t come into my yard, I can guarantee you that.

            The 5 terriers pretty much take care of every life form that doesn’t fly that comes into my yard. If you’re on the ground, you’re leaving via shovel and trash can.

      2. Of course they don’t work for the gubmint.

        I’m sure your dogs will have a nice government job as soon as squirrels are outlawed.

      3. My dog has 200% accuracy in detecting squirrels. That must mean she was a K-9 before we adopted her.

  8. Here is the question I have. Weren’t the cops trespassing on this guy’s property? Couldn’t he tell them to get off his lawn?

    1. That was my first thought as well.

      It’s one thing to take your probable cause manufacturing canine for a walk on public land (like the sidewalk in front of someones home) but once you step on private property i really don’t see how this can be classified as anything but a search requiring a search warrant.

      And it’s not like cops have to work all that hard for a warrant. Judges hand those things out like candy on halloween.

      1. WRONG!!!

        The Supreme Court has concluded that cops can go into your drive-way (private property), put a spying device on your car, and that is not illegal.

      2. once you step on private property i really don’t see how this can be classified as anything but a search requiring a search warrant.

        It’s an understandable mistake, rooted in your mis-assumption of actually owning your property.

  9. Make sure to VOTE REPUBLICAN in the next Presidential election so that when Ginsburg dies, the president can appoint another SAMUEL ALITO. This way, matter like this wouldn’t even have to go to the supreme court as everyone knows how the vote would go.


  10. I don’t see the controversy here…

    The Supreme Court has concluded that cops can go into your drive-way (private property), put a spying device on your car, and that is not illegal.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK they’ll say about this?

  11. Justice Dean would rule that anything a cop does to gather evidence that an ordinary citizen can’t legally do is a search subject to Constitutional limitations.

    Can an ordinary citizen legally have his dog sniff your bag on the sidewalk? Yes. No warrant required.

    Can an ordinary citizen legally bring his dog onto your property to sniff your stuff? No. That would be trespassing. Get a warrant, copper.

    Can an ordinary citizen imprison you until you cough up the PIN for your cell, or the password for your computer? Nope. Search, warrant.

    1. Your ideas are compelling and I would like to subscribe to your Internets.

    2. Look Mr. Dean. I know you went to Harvard. So you are a little brighter than the rest of these animals. But you are not fat. You are not Italian. And you are not a Supreme Court Justice.

      So I am telling you. The inherent professionalism of police gives them the right to do these things.

    3. How do we get Justice Dean on the Supreme Court?

  12. I don’t see how a dog is anything but a search. A dog in public in the course of normal duties may be considered a random safety measure (because the officer isn’t necessarily leading the dog on), but if he stops at your house, walks the dog around enough times, the dog will signal if just so he can go on break. The cop is “searching” in every sense of the word.

  13. The cop is “searching” in every sense of the word.

    Exactly. If he weren’t searching, he wouldn’t need the dog.

  14. A dog is a cop’s cunt’s shortcut to know what you may have in your personal property when he isn’t allowed to look for himself. It is a search.

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