>> Business Law and Ethics
The Saint Leo Police Department has a K-9 unit which is primarily used in drug searches. Last week, the unit obtained a search warrant for a convenience store in town. An informant had given the department information that illegal drug purchases were taking place in the store. The department has never used this informant before and his credibility and reliability have not been tested. The informant has pending criminal charges against him and the supervisor of the unit told the informant that if his information turned out to be reliable, the supervisor would make a positive recommendation to the prosecutor handling the informant's case. The supervisor of the unit prepared an affidavit in support of the search warrant application using the informant's statements. When it was presented to the court, the judge was at lunch, so the clerk signed the warrant. Armed with the warrant, the K-9 unit proceeded to the convenience store. The owner of the store, Mr. Wrong, allowed the officers and the K-9 dog named "Happy" to enter the store without objection. Happy led the officers to a storage room and then to a trap door that was concealed under a rug. Many pounds of marijuana and several ounces of cocaine were discovered under the building. After the officers secured the evidence and were loading up their vehicles, Happy ran over to the door of what appeared to be a private dwelling located within 10 feet of the convenience store and gave a signal indicating illegal drugs at that location. The supervisor knocked on the door and was greeted by an individual, Mr. Right, who turned and ran to the back of the residence. The supervisor pursued him. Once in the house, the supervisor saw a scale and what appeared to be a large amount of cocaine and several small plastic baggies on the living room table. The supervisor arrested Mr. Right and charged him with possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
The owner of the convenience store, Mr. Wrong, has filed a motion to suppress the evidence taken from the cellar based on a defective search warrant. The Sheriff wants your advice regarding that claim.
Mr. Right's civil attorney has threatened a Section 1983 lawsuit against the supervisor, the Sheriff, and the department because his client's constitutional rights were violated. The Sheriff wants to know what claims Mr. Right might have against her, the supervisor of the K- 9 unit, and the department. Do they all have liability? The Sheriff would also like you to evaluate those claims and make recommendations to her.
Mr. Right's criminal attorney has filed a motion to suppress all evidence taken from the residence based on an illegal search. He says that a dog's sniff of a private residence is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Sheriff wants your advice on this claim.