Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dog Sniffs Under State Constitutions

The Supreme Court ruled in Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405 (2005) that police use of a drug-detecting dog during a traffic stop does not violate the fourth amendment. It remanded the case for consideration of the issue under the Illinois constitution. Last week, in People v. Caballes, the Illionis Supreme Court held that the practice did not violate the state constitution's search and seizure provision or its privacy clause. Law Dawg Blawg: Illinois Supreme Court Allows Dog Sniffs

Having read this in an Illinois blog (Law Dawg Blawg is from the Southern Illinois University Law Library (SIU's mascot is the Saluki)), I wondered: what's the status of dog sniffs under the Washington constitution?

In a recent law review article, Justice Charles Johnson explained:

Washington has not adopted the federal Supreme Court's blanket holding that dog sniffs are not searches. State v. Boyce, 44 Wn. App. 724, 730, 723 P.2d 28, 31 (1986) ("As long as the canine sniffs the object from an area where the defendant does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and the canine sniff itself is minimally intrusive, then no search has occurred."). Washington law requires a case-by-case analysis when officers use sensory-enhancing techniques in the course of their investigations. State v. Jackson, 150 Wn.2d 251, 264, 76 P.3d 217, 224 (2003) (en banc) (installation of "sense-enhancing" GPS tracking on vehicle constitutes search and seizure under Article I, Section 7); Young, 123 Wn.2d at 188 ("a dog sniff might constitute a search if the object of the search or the location of the search were subject to heightened constitutional protection"); State v. Stanphill, 53 Wn. App. 623, 631, 769 P.2d 861, 865 (1989) (dog sniff of package at post office is not a search); State v. Wolohan, 23 Wn. App. 813, 818, 598 P.2d 421, 424 (1979) (dog sniff of parcel in bus terminal is not a search).
Justice Charles W. Johnson, Survey of Washington Search and Seizure Law: 2005 Update, 28 Seattle U.L. Rev. 467, 481 (2005).

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Image: Jesse, a dog who was not trained or employed by the police, but regularly engaged in searches and seizures. Here she is seen with a seized flashlight in fall 2002. Photo by mw.

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