Pubdate: Fri, 19 May 2006
Source: Evansville Courier & Press (IN)
Copyright: 2006 The Evansville Courier Company
Author: Associated Press


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A deeply divided Illinois Supreme Court gave 
police broad authority Thursday to use drug-sniffing dogs to inspect 
cars during routine traffic stops, a move critics call an erosion of 
personal liberty.

The Illinois attorney general's office, however, applauded the ruling 
for giving police more freedom to use "an invaluable tool." The 
court's 4-3 majority found that a dog sniffing the exterior of a car 
does not constitute an unreasonable search.

"A dog sniff will not reveal the contents of diaries or love letters; 
it will not reveal the individual's choice of reading materials, 
whether religious, political or pornographic; it will not reveal 
sexual orientation or marital infidelity," Justice Rita Garman wrote.

The case, which already has been to the U.S. Supreme Court, involves 
Roy Caballes, who was stopped on Interstate 80 in 1998 for driving 6 
mph over the speed limit. Although Caballes lawfully produced his 
driver's license, troopers brought over a drug dog after noticing an 
air freshener in the car and noting that Caballes appeared nervous.

The dog indicated drugs were in the trunk, and police searched it 
even though Caballes refused to give permission. They found $250,000 
worth of marijuana, and Caballes was convicted of drug trafficking.

Initially, the verdict was thrown out by the Illinois Supreme Court, 
which ruled in 2003 the use of a drug dog was improper because police 
had no particular reason to suspect Caballes had drugs. But the U.S. 
Supreme Court found that a dog sniffing the outside of a car did not 
amount to an improper search.

The case was sent back to Illinois for further action, and Caballes 
challenged his conviction again by arguing that the Illinois 
Constitution's privacy protections are stronger than those in the 
U.S. Constitution.

This time, the Illinois court upheld the search, although Justices 
Charles Freeman, Mary Ann McMorrow and Thomas Kilbride dissented.

Freeman said he sees "several serious flaws" in the U.S. Supreme 
Court ruling in the case, which should force the Illinois court to 
reject the inspection of Caballes' car.

Caballes could face a 12-year prison sentence after eight years of 
being free, said his attorney, Ralph Meczyk, who said he was studying 
the ruling and didn't know if he would appeal.

He called the ruling "truly an erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights."
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