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Prof. Tim MacDonnell Examines Contraband Exceptions in New Article

February 12, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
Tim MacDonnell

Prof. Tim MacDonnell

Washington and Lee Law Professor Tim MacDonnell has published an article examining contraband searches of the home. The article is titled “Florida v. Jardines: The Wolf at the Castle Door” and was published in the New York University Journal of Law & Liberty. From the introduction:

Despite its potential impact, Jardines seems innocuous at first. The State of Florida has appealed the Florida Supreme Court’s determination that police violated the Fourth Amendment when they used a narcotics dog to sniff the front door of a suspect’s home without a warrant.  In its brief in support of certiorari, the State of Florida points out that police are already permitted to use narcotics dogs without warrants in airports and at traffic stops. Florida and seventeen other states have argued that the dog sniff of an automobile is no different than the dog sniff of a home. The claim is that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in possessing contraband, thus any investigative technique that only reveals the presence or absence of contraband is not a search.

The purpose of this article is to examine the controversy regarding the application of the contraband exception to the home and the potential impact of the Jardines decision. The article will begin by examining the cases that make up the Supreme Court’s contraband exception and some of the Court’s precedent regarding the home and warrantless searches. Next, the article will examine the Florida  Supreme Court’s holding in Jardines and discuss how the Florida court arrived at the conclusion that the canine sniff in that case was a search. This section will compare the Florida court’s conclusions with Supreme Court precedent. Finally, the article will examine the three most probable results of the Jardines decision and advocate for the Court’s rejection of warrantless canine sniffs of the home.

A PDF of the article is available here.

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