Pubdate: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 Source: Toronto Star (Canada) Page: A9 Contact: http://www.thestar.com/ Author: Roberta Avery Special To The Star DOPE SEARCH WAS LEGAL, JUDGE RULES WALKERTON -- Police officers didn't violate a man's rights when they ignored his no-trespassing signs and entered a fenced property to search for marijuana without a warrant, a judge has ruled. Judge Gary Hunter overruled an argument by defence lawyer Clayton Ruby that the constitutional rights of John Lauda, 43, of Bentinck Township had been violated. "It was unrealistic to expect the sort of privacy afforded to private dwellings in an open field," said the judge, in a verdict issued yesterday in Ontario Court, provincial division. He sentenced Lauda to three years in prison on narcotics charges. Ruby said he will be launching an appeal of the conviction immediately. Acting on a tip from Crime Stoppers, provincial police entered a field leased by Lauda in Bentinck Township, about 40 kilometres south of Owen Sound, on Oct. 22, 1997. Ruby argued the marijuana was not visible from off the property, so the search was illegal. Therefore, the search warrant that was obtained subsequently was also illegal, he argued. During the two-day trial in February, police told court they had found marijuana with an estimated street value of $175,000 in the field and that Lauda grew marijuana to support his four children. In 1994, Lauda was acquitted on similar charges. That acquittal was overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Ruby has appealed that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.