Odor of Pot Isn't Cause for Search Court Concludes

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Oct 26, 2002.

  1. By The Associated Press
    Source: Austin American-Statesman

    The smell of marijuana did not give Abilene police officers probable cause to enter a home, the Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled, upholding a Taylor County trial judge's suppression of marijuana seized at the house.
    "The odor of marijuana, standing alone, does not authorize a warrantless search and seizure in a home," Judge Charles Holcomb wrote in a 6-3 opinion released Wednesday.

    "This case is about the right of citizens to be left alone in the privacy of their homes," Judge Cathy Cochran wrote in a concurring opinion.

    Police, acting on an anonymous tip, arrived at the home of Leo and Ian Steelman, a father and son who are electricians, on April 21, 1998, and seized marijuana. The officers peered into the house through a crack in a window blind and saw four men sitting in a living room but observed no illegal activity.

    According to reports, the officers then knocked on the front door. Ian Steelman answered the door, stepped outside and closed the door behind him. The officers smelled the odor of burnt marijuana, burst through the doorway and arrested the men.

    When police executed a search warrant about two hours later, they found the marijuana. The Steelmans were charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession.

    The court majority said that because Ian Steelman had committed no crime in the officers' presence, the officers could not enter his home uninvited. The officers had no idea who was smoking or possessing marijuana, Holcomb wrote.

    The dissenting judges criticized the ruling.

    Presiding Judge Sharon Keller said that Texas "establishes as a matter of law that people may not be arrested for smoking marijuana in their homes -- as long as they don't do it alone."

    Judge Mike Keasler began his dissent with one word: "Amazing."

    "Of course, the marijuana did not spontaneously ignite. Somebody inside was smoking or had smoked it. And in order to burn it, one must possess it," Keasler wrote.

    Stan Brown, the Abilene lawyer who represented the Steelmans, said his clients were happy with the ruling and that it possibly could inhibit law enforcement from knocking on somebody's door in hopes of getting a "sniff of something."

    Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
    Published: Friday, October 25, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Austin American-Statesman
    Contact: letters@statesman.com
    Website: http://www.austin360.com/aas/
  2. Yeah, that's pretty aweseme, i actually saw something about it on cable news the other day. Keep the news coming SuperJoint, I appreciate it :)

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