Thursday, December 20, 2012


On October 31st the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases that involved the use of drug detection dogs and fourth amendment rights (Florida v. Jardines, Docket No. 11-564, and, Florida v. Harris, Docket No. 11-817). Transcripts and audios are available from the United States Supreme Court website

Information concerning these cases and an informative discussion of the issues can be found on the SCOTUSblog at

This was not the first time the court has been asked for guidance on this issue, and courts in many jurisdictions and at all levels have dealt with similar cases. In fact, there exists a great body of case law, annotations, and journal articles on the subject. An early case from the Tenth Circuit , U.S. v. Garcia, 42 F.3d 604 (10th Cir. 1994), was reported in ALR Federal along with the following annotation: Brian L. Porto, J.D., "Use of Trained Dog to Detect Narcotics or Drugs as Unreasonable Search in Violation of Fourth Amendment, 158 ALR Federal 399 (1998).

The reliability of the dog is sometimes a question in such cases. For a great discussion of this issue see: Monica Fazekas, Comment, Pawing Their Way to the Supreme Court: The Evidence Required to Prove a Narcotic Detection Dog’s Reliability, 32 N. ILL. L. Rev 473 (2012). A recent Massachusetts Superior Court ruling on a motion to suppress evidence in the matter of Commonwealth v. Edgar Santiago, 30 Mass L. Reprt. 81 (2012) provides a close examination of the issue and cites cases and journal articles in its discussion.

More information on the topic is available at our Law About Drug Detection Dogs.