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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Accepts Dog Sniff Case Contending Fla. Supreme Court Ignored Probable Cause Precedent

Posted Mar 26, 2012 11:10 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the Florida Supreme Court ignored precedent when it ruled on behalf of a defendant arrested after a drug-sniffing dog indicated his car contained contraband.

The Florida high court had ruled the alert by a trained dog does not establish probable cause for the search, according to the cert petition (PDF) in Florida v. Harris. An amendment to the Florida Constitution nearly 30 years ago brought the state’s search and seizure laws into conformity with Supreme Court decisions, the petition says.

“In its complete disregard of this court’s consistent interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, the Florida Supreme Court has invalidated the usefulness of dogs to law enforcement and society as a crime fighting tool to sniff out illegal contraband,” the cert petition says.

In January, the Supreme Court granted cert in another Florida case that considers whether police need probable cause before they use a drug-sniffing dog outside the home of a suspected marijuana operation.

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