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Florida Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Consider "Drug Dog" Case

November 23, 2011 | WMFE - A Miami court case involving a drug-sniffing dog and a citizen's right to privacy may be heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is asking the nation's high court to consider overturning a decision by the state Supreme Court. The state Justices ruled that the use of a specially trained drug detection dog to smell around a suspect's door is itself a search and requires probable cause to carry out.


The case is five years old.  Miami-Dade police got a Crime Stoppers tip about a potential marijuana grow-house.
The officers found a lot of pot in Joelis Jardines' house but how they found that marijuana has caused a judicial debate about who can legally smell your house.
Police surveillance turned up nothing. No cars were home.
The blinds were shut.
"We used to say that if you left your blinds open, you invited the world into your house."
So says Robert Jarvis, a constitutional law expert at Nova Southeastern University.
"But now you can have the blinds tightly shut and the world - at least the police - can still be looking in."

In this case, it was Franky the drug-sniffing dog. The police took Franky on a warrant-free stroll up to the home's front door.

Franky barked and then the police got a warrant to go in.

Earlier this year, the state's highest court ruled against that kind of search and, Robert Jarvis says, the court ruling means that police can't hide behind the defense that it's alright to search a home as long as they never set foot inside.
"That, in fact, just walking by your house and smelling your house, it is an unreasonable search." Jarvis says.

State officials are now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take a look at the case.
Jarvis thinks there's a good chance of that happening.
He says courts all over the country are grappling with the legality of things like placing a GPS on a suspect's car, heat sensors to look inside homes for grow-lamps and listening devices that are getting more and more advanced.

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