Normally you don’t see the Supreme Court giving advice to pot smokers. A Yahoo story tells us about a case that was just recently heard, that gave some indication, by the questioning, as to the philosophy of some of the Justices.
A man was entertaining two friends at his Kentucky apartment. No one contests that they had a small amount of marijuana and cocaine in the apartment.
Nearby, the police had entered the building to go to another apartment, based on the tip of an informant. As they were going to raid the nearby apartment and while passing this man’s apartment door, they smelled the aroma of marijuana.
As the police knocked on this “new door of interest”, they heard a toilet flushing, which caused them to kick in the door. The renter later pled guilty to drug charges. The Kentucky Supreme Court threw out the evidence and conviction because they held that the evidence was obtained without a warrant.
The matter was appealed to the US Supreme Court. The primary issue was whether a noise that suggests possible destruction of evidence, is a basis to justify a warrantless search.
The ruling by the Supreme Court won’t come out until sometime in the Spring. Some of the questions of the Justices could give some indication of how they are thinking.
Justice Kagan said that she worries that allowing the evidence would make it too easy for police to avoid the necessity of a warrant. She stated that the police might regularly say, “we smelled pot, we heard noise”.
Justice Ginsburg wondered why the police didn’t just go get a warrant when they smelled the drugs. She could not understand why they knocked in the first place.
Justice Scalia decided he would question with tongue in cheek. With fake outrage, he accused the police of “taking advantage of the stupidity of the criminals”.
It wasn’t addressed in the article, but I wonder what ever happened to the apartment down the hall. Did they end up avoiding arrest because of their neighbors?