Florida v. Jardines: United States Supreme Court Holds that Using Drug Dog on Homeowner’s Front Porch is a Search Under Fourth Amendment
You may recall in one of my previous posts that I was waiting for the Supreme Court to issue opinions in a couple of Florida cases involving drug dogs. Well, on March 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the second case, Florida v. Jardines, No. 11-564, and held that using a drug dog on a homeowner’s front porch to investigate the contents of the home is a “search” within the meaning of the 4th Amendment. If you are a criminal defense or criminal appeals attorney who handles a lot of cases involving the Fourth Amendment, this is a good case to keep in handy. At a mere 10 pages, the majority opinion is a straightforward application of the Fourth Amendment’s property-based protections. In short, the Court affirmed the Florida Supreme Court’s decision, and held that the officer’s act of entering the curtilage with the drug dog for the sole purpose of conducting a drug sniff of the residence violated the Fourth Amendment.
Not surprisingly, the best part of the opinion lies in the unusual composition of the majority and dissenting camps. While Justice Scalia authored the majority opinion, (he was joined by Justices Thomas, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor), the dissenters were Justices Alito, Kennedy, Breyer, and Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Kagan, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor issued a concurring opinion, wherein they stated that they would have also affirmed on privacy grounds, following Kyollo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001).