Supreme Court Rules to affix GPS Devices to Cars Without a Warrant is an illegal Search

David Rudoi Esq.
January 29, 2012

On January 22, 2012 a unanimous United States Supreme Court ruled that government authorities cannot attach GPS devices to vehicles without properly attained search warrants. The Justices ruled that it was an illegal search and violation of the Fourth Amendment to the constitution for the government to install GPS devices to vehicles in order to monitor those vehicles movements. The reasoning was that when the government agents actually install the GPS device they are “physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area…, and thus, a search has occurred.

It was the act of physically attaching the device to the underside of a vehicle that 5 of the Justices agreed constituted a search. The other four Justices agreed that a month of GPS surveillance constituted the search in United States v. Jones. This is seemingly a reversal of the 1983 Supreme Court decision of United States v. Knotts in which the court ruled government agents could use beepers to track citizen’s vehicles without a search warrant. The beepers acted as primitive versions of GPS, therefore the factual scenarios are anomalous and the Jones case amounted to an important reversal of Supreme Court precedent regarding the Fourth Amendment protection from illegal searches and seizures.

The U.S. Supreme Court Will Consider Florida Marihuana Drug Dog Case

David Rudoi Esq.
Jan. 18 2012

On January 6, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that it will hear Florida v. Jardine, an important Fourth Amendment case dealing with the use of drug dogs by authorities in procuring search warrants for homes.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that using drug dogs outside a home in order to detect whether marijuana was being grown inside the home, and doing so without a search warrant, amounted to an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Miami-Dade Police Department, using the reaction of dogs as probable cause, obtained a search warrant and subsequently raided a marijuana cultivation operation, seizing 179 marijuana plants.

According to Florida’s high court, bringing a drug dog to a house’s closed entryway, and having that dog sniff to detect marijuana cultivation, constitutes in and of itself a search of the home. If done without a search warrant, they said, it also constitutes a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures.

In a variety of cases involving traffic stops and airport luggage, the U.S. Supreme Court has in the past ruled that drug dog sniffs do not constitute searches. They have repeatedly found that citizens have no right to privacy in their illegal activities and that the dogs are only trained to detect such activity. However, the Court has also always held that constitutional protections are at their highest within private residences. In Kyllo v. U.S., for example, the Supreme Court found that the use of thermal imaging technology to detect grow lights used in marijuana cultivation was an unconstitutional search, because it would allow detection of other, non-criminal activity, such as the lady of the house’s bathing times. Still, the Supreme Court’s record of repeatedly finding that drug dog sniffs are not searches could give an indication as to their expected ruling.

Florida v. Jardine will be an interesting case for this current Supreme Court to decide. Will they continue to ensure that privacy rights within a home are protected, or stick with current jurisprudence which maintains that drug dogs can sniff anywhere that is accessible to the public?

marijuana concealed weapon

Medical Marihuana Patients with Concealed Weapon Permits Will be Permitted to Keep Their Licenses in Oregon

The U.S. Supreme court decided not to hear Jackson County Sherriff Mike Winter’s legal challenge, which asserted that U.S. federal law trumps state laws allowing for medical marihuana patients to not be abridged from carrying concealed weapons. The Oregon Sherriff refused to grant medical marijuana patients concealed gun permits starting in 2008 based on federal law that considers marijuana a controlled substance. Therefore, if marijuana is considered a controlled substance than allowing a person to have a concealed weapon permit would violate the Gun Control Act of 1968.

The Jackson County Sherriff, Mike Winters, has lost every court case from circuit to the Oregon Supreme Court, and now since the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case the legal precedent has been established: medical marijuana patients do not violate the Gun Control Act of 1968 by obtaining and maintaining concealed weapon permits!

thc-testing-medical-marijuana

New Study Shows THC Levels Often Spike Well into Periods of Abstinence

David Rudoi Esq.

Jan 9, 2012

thc-testing-medical-marijuanaAccording to a recent study by Huestis et al, marijuana metabolite levels often peak several days after a person has stopped using. The study monitored marijuana users’s THC-COOH levels (the primary method by which courts test for marijuana use) over 30 day periods of abstinence and found that, in 40% of cases, users tested at peak levels after several days of abstinence. The study also showed that heavy marijuana users can test positive, at levels upwards of 50 ng, after having already tested negative and without having used in the interim period.

The implications of this study are significant. They show that rising THC-COOH levels are not a legitimate indicator of continued use, and should no longer be treated as such. With these findings, we can say with a high degree of confidence that people on probation or awaiting sentencing are being punished for positive tests, even though they have not reinitiated use of marijuana. Needless to say, this can have severe, far-ranging consequences. Courts must be aware of this possibility and act in a manner that takes into consideration the uncertainty of these results, in order to avoid punishing people for an act that they did not commit.

NDAA Shreds the Bill Of Rights

Obama-Signs-NDAA

David Rudoi Esq.

Jan 2, 2012

While most of us were out celebrating the New Year, President Obama quietly signed The National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA). The NDAA codifies into law the indefinite detention of “terrorists” named in the act as “Belligerents” without a right to trial, habeas corpus, or a right to counsel. Furthermore, the NDAA authorizes the U.S. Military to carry out domestic anti-terrorism operations while on United States soil. American Citizens who fall into the broad definition of “belligerents” may now be detained without any of the rights guaranteed in the Bill Of Rights.

President Obama claims that he will not use his new powers granted in the NDAA, and threatened to veto the Act until Congress added provisions that took the ultimate power to detain suspects from the military hands and put it into the President’s. However, this change is hardly enough security for those who fear that the Bill Of Rights has just been shredded. The fact that the NDAA was signed into law on New Year’s Eve only furthers the perception that the government has attempted to sneak in a law that essentially nullifies civil liberties, which have existed in this country for hundreds of years.