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Supreme Court To Determine Accuracy Of Police Dog Noses In Florida Drug Case

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National Crime Prevention Council
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Florida is back on the nation's legal map today with two cases before the U. S. Supreme Court, both of them involving police dogs whose well-trained noses led to now-controversial drug arrests.

From The Washington Post:

The justices must decide whether man’s best friend is an honest broker as blind to prejudice as Lady Justice, or as prone as the rest of us to a bad day at the office or the ma­nipu­la­tion of our partners. The Supreme Court in the past has tended to agree with the first view. Justice John Paul Stevens, now retired, wrote for the court in a 2005 case that a drug-sniffing dog reveals “no information other than the location of a substance that no individual has any right to possess.”But the two cases on the docket present an aggressive challenge to the notion that a dog’s “alert” to the presence of drugs is enough to legally justify a search of someone’s home or vehicle.

One of the cases involved a marijuana grow house in Miami-Dade County and a defendant who wound up in custody because the dog, a chocolate lab named Franky,  had detected the smell of marijuana from outside the house.

The question for the justices: How constitutional is that? Was it a warrantless search?

The other case, from Tallahassee, raises a  more basic question: Should people get arrested on the say-so of a dog? How accurate is a dog's nose, really? The Florida Supreme Court ruled last year that the idea of the infallible dog is "a creation of legal fiction."