Pubdate: Fri, 22 May 2009
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Copyright: 2009 Nevada Appeal
Author: Geoff Dornan
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


The Nevada Supreme Court Thursday tossed a drug  conviction against a
Reno man, ruling that the  forcible, warrantless entry by police into
his home was  not justified.

Sean Andrew Hannon was convicted of drug possession in  a case filed
after police responded to a domestic  disturbance call at his apartment.

The disturbance was a loud verbal argument between  Hannon and his
girlfriend Lea Robinson. When officer  Eric Friberg arrived, the woman
assured him she was OK  and no one inside was injured.

The officer said he needed to come inside and check but  was denied
permission by both Robinson and Hannon. As  he and another officer
forced their way in, Hannon went  to the kitchen and put a bag in a

Friberg testified he forced his way into the apartment  not because of
Hannon's actions but to protect the  safety of the occupants.

He then called for a search warrant. Hannon finally  gave him
permission to search after expressing concern  the officers would
"tear up" the house if they got a  warrant to search.

The officers recovered a pillowcase sized bag of  marijuana from the
cupboard and charged Hannon with  possession.

The district court rejects Hannon's motion to suppress  the evidence
but was denied. He pleaded no contest and  was convicted of the crime.

On appeal, the high court ruled the officer didn't have  sufficient
reason to force his way in without a  warrant.

"Even if there was initial reason to believe that  Hannon or Robinson
may have been injured, Officer  Friberg's concerns should have been
allayed after  interviewing Hannon and Robinson at the door," the
opinion states.

The court also pointed out the fight was over and the  apartment quiet
when they arrived, that the domestic  disturbance "by all accounts,
seemed to have already  dissipated."

The opinion says the police had no reason to believe  either had been
injured and absolutely no evidence to  believe there was anybody else

"We conclude that the warrantless entry into Hannon's  apartment was
not justified by an objectively  reasonable belief that there was an
immediate need to  protect the occupants of Hannon's apartment."

The three judge panel consisting of justices Ron  Parraguirre, Michael
Douglas and Kris Pickering  overturned the conviction. 
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