Super Sniffers

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Georgia state troopers claim their probable cause for a traffic stop search was that they could smell marijuana packed in a trash bag in the trunk of the suspects’ car. One of the suspect’s lawyer now wants a court to make them prove it.

Hope their noses are better trained than those in the chocolate chip cookie case.

UPDATE: Motion denied! Apparently the court took judicial notice of the cops’ super-human olfactory abilities.

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14 Responses to “Super Sniffers”

  1. #1 |  Nando | 

    Well, pigs are supposed to have a great sense of smell.

  2. #2 |  Edintally | 

    “Based on my knowledge and training, I felt there was criminal behavior afoot,” Adamson wrote.

    +1 for using the word “afoot” in a sentence. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson would be proud.

  3. #3 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Radley, you missed the followup:

    http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/stories/2008/07/12/potsmell.html?cxntlid=inform_artr

    For those who don’t care to click, the motion was denied.

  4. #4 |  MacK | 

    It was denied, because that would mean that many cases would run afoul of probable cause, and the judge knew it.

    Although the lawyer for the defense is trying to get another opportunity on appeals to higher courts. Lets wish them good luck.

    I was wondering just the other day when they could smell the pot in the cookies when this crap would be challenged.

    As I think about it though most cops do think they are superhuman, so something as simple as smelling pot through a plastic bag, inside a trunk, with the wind blowing, and air fresheners masking the odor is no problem.

  5. #5 |  Hunter | 

    Oh, so cops can smell marijuana just as well as drug dogs can? The the state is wasting my frikkin’ tax money maintaining drug dogs, and it’s time for a lawsuit to make them stop wasting it.

    Or, to put it another way, either they’re wasting money training and keeping dogs to do this work, or the cops can’t actually smell marijuana from a distance, into a trunk, and into trash bags. So which is it, Georgia, eh?

  6. #6 |  jac | 

    “I’m shocked and dismayed the judge did not even give us an opportunity to be heard and just made a ruling,” West said Friday.

    Funny, I’m not and it isn’t my profession.

  7. #7 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    If a cop claimed they had probably cause based on a psychic vision, how many think they’d actually be able to get away with that in court?

  8. #8 |  KBCraig | 

    Edintally, “crime afoot” is the way the standard is worded for a Terry stop.

  9. #9 |  Highway | 

    At this point, ‘probable cause’ simply means “I’m a cop, and I think you probably did something, cause all people are criminals that just haven’t been caught yet.”

  10. #10 |  Alex | 

    I don’t want to defend these State Troopers becasue I’m not familiar with the specifics of this case (and I dislike troopers even more than cops), but I can definitely smell 10 pounds of pot in a trash bag inside a trunk. Hell, I could probably smell it from a car in oncoming traffic. 10 pounds is normally packed in at least a few bricks, each with at least 3 layers of plastic wrap and vasoline. This is done for a good reason . . . because people can smell it from outside your car if you don’t. In college (anonymous comments are cool), our neighboors came over when we opened a one pound brick in the corner of our house. They smelled 1/10th that amount of pot through a door, down a hallway, through another door, through an exterior door, accross a yard, and through another exterior door. So, you know, 10 pounds in a cheapass bag is really nothing.

  11. #11 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I don’t want to defend these State Troopers becasue I’m not familiar with the specifics of this case (and I dislike troopers even more than cops), but I can definitely smell 10 pounds of pot in a trash bag inside a trunk.

    Then why not let the test go forward and just be done with it?

  12. #12 |  AllenC | 

    My wife used to work as an LE Ranger with the National Park Service. In the course of one year, she led her district in locating and eradicating illicit grows on NPS land containing some 10,000 marijuana plants. By the end of that time, she was getting tipped off to grows based on smell. Seriously, we’d be driving around her rec. area on her day off, and she’d make me pull over, get out of the car, and look for where the smell was coming from, so she’d know where to look when she got back to work.

    And then she’d find the grow.

    On more than one occasion, when we’ve gone to see a movie, she’s exclaimed to me that someone’s dope stinks. So I’m with Alex – I think people can smell the presence of dope under rather surprising cicrumstances.

    Now, my wife is a good enough cop that she wouldn’t make it the basis for a probable cause search. She’d find another way into the trunk, probably by just asking for consent to search – an amazing number of dopers will just say yes.

    The troopers should have done just a little more work to avoid getting their search challenged.

    Oh, and MacK – the collection of air fresheners is actually a tip-off – there is a strong correlation between lots of air fresheners and the presence of dope in a car. Not probable cause, mind, but the kind of thing that gets you questioned a little more closely.

  13. #13 |  Alex | 

    Maybe the judge finds the idea that 10 pounds of pot is unsmellable from a couple feet away silly. Maybe the judge thought that the particular test the attorney came up with wasn’t scientific. Maybe the judge doesn’t want to set the precedent of allowing defense attorneys to test the 5 senses of every arresting officer. Maybe the judge secretly hates the 4th Amendment and is fighting it from the inside. Maybe the judge doesn’t want to postpone a vacation. Maybe the judge keeps pot in his car and doesn’t want the cops to sniff out his car in the parking lot. Maybe the judge wasn’t wearing pants and couldn’t leave the bench.

  14. #14 |  supercat | 

    Maybe the judge finds the idea that 10 pounds of pot is unsmellable from a couple feet away silly.

    If the test were conducted, and the cop had no difficulty smelling the pot, that would bolster the prosecution’s case. In cases like this, I tend to believe that such things are generally excluded not because they aren’t relevant, but because they are.

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