The Supreme Court has issued an opinion in Florida v. Harris.

JUSTICE KAGAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case, we consider how a court should determine if the “alert” of a drug-detection dog during a traffic stop provides probable cause to search a vehicle. The Florida Supreme Court held that the State must in every casepresent an exhaustive set of records, including a log of the dog’s performance in the field, to establish the dog’s reliability. See 71 So. 3d 756, 775 (2011). We think that demand inconsistent with the “flexible, common-sense standard” of probable cause. Illinois v. Gates, 462 U. S. 213, 239 (1983).

The court sneezed when it came application of inflexible evidence standards for when a dog alert provides probable cause for a search, “A sniff is up to snuff when it meets that test.”  Slip op. at 9.

2 Responses to “Passing the smell test in the Supremes”

  1. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    I predict, before the next three decades are out, that we will see an opinion upholding a search based upon a police officer’s intuition and judgment as the basis for searching a car, because it is consistent with the flexible, common-sense standard of probable cause.  Warrants are just a silly, 18th-century concept not suited to the modern world.  Liberty is but a small price to pay to defeat the evil drug menace.

  2. k fischer says:

    I noticed at Footnote 2 that Justice Kagan is a fan of military administrative law:
    2. “See U. S. Dept. of Army, Military Working Dog Program 30 (Pamphlet 190–12, 1993) (“The odor of a substance may be present in enough concentration to cause the dog to respond even after the substance has been removed. Therefore, when a detector dog responds and no drug or explosive is found, do not assume the dog has made an error”);”
    Reminds me of a story I heard at JAG Camp where a working dog during a health and welfare inspection signaled on a box containing a photograph of a small group of Soldier’s in Garmisch smoking some of Amsterdam’s finest.  I thought it was some sort of psychic dog or a dog with x-ray vision that could see two-dimensional figures, but apparently the simple explanation was that the Soldiers were toking up while looking at the pictures.