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Friday, March 25, 2005

Ind. Decisions - Justices restrict police searches of trash

Reporting on yesterday's Supreme Court decision in Patrick & Susan May Litchfield v. State of Indiana (3/24/05 IndSCt)[ILB entry here], Kevin Corcoran of the Indianapolis Star writes:

Criminal investigators can't root through Hoosiers' garbage on mere hunches of finding evidence, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday.

Writing for the high court, Justice Theodore Boehm set a new, higher legal standard in which police must offer specific, legitimate reasons for trash searches that include a reasonable expectation of turning up evidence.

"The police can no longer, out of curiosity, come out to see what's in your trash," Indianapolis defense attorney Robert Hammerle said after reviewing the ruling. "We now require more of police officers than we do of raccoons."

Hammerle said the Supreme Court essentially recognized that most people put their trash in opaque bags -- not clear plastic ones -- because they continue to have some expectation of privacy even after trash has been placed at the curb.

"You can tell a lot about a person from their trash," Hammerle said. "You can tell what they eat, where they shop. Police should not have unbridled access to all that."

See also this AP story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 25, 2005 02:13 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions