Law School Case Brief
People v. Burns - 2016 IL 118973, 401 Ill. Dec. 468, 50 N.E.3d 610 (Il. 2016)
The Supreme Court of the United States has held that a warrantless "dog sniff" of an individual's front porch was a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment and suppressed the recovered evidence. The Supreme Court began its analysis by emphasizing that the Fourth Amendment establishes: a simple baseline, one that for much of our history formed the exclusive basis for its protections. When the Government obtains information by physically intruding on persons, houses, papers, or effects, a "search" within the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment has undoubtedly occurred.
On Nov. 29, 2012, local police received an anonymous tip that defendant Taron B. Burns was receiving shipments of marijuana from California; that she received a shipment on Nov. 21; that she sold ecstasy to the tipster's girlfriend; that she sold approximately two pounds of marijuana a week. Officers investigated, which included, among other things, an officer dressed in plain clothes walking through the apartment building where Burns lived and a warrantless "open air" search with a drug sniffing dog near Burns' apartment door, both in Jan. 2013. Officers obtained a warrant and marijuana was found in Burns' apartment. Burns was later charged with unlawful possession with intent to deliver between 500 and 2,000 grams of cannabis. At trial in Illinois state court, Burns filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the dog sniff of the entrance to her apartment violated the fourth amendment. The trial court granted the motion. The People appealed.
Did the officers' warrantless use of a drug-detection dog violate Burns' rights under the Fourth Amendment?
The state supreme court affirmed the lower courts' judgments. The court ruled that the officers' warrantless use of a drug-detection dog at 3:20 a.m. at Burns' apartment door, located within a locked apartment building, violated Burns' rights under the Fourth Amendment. The good faith exception to the exclusionary rule did not apply because the officers could not have objectively, reasonably believed that their conduct was authorized. The court held that absent the dog sniff, the evidence relied on in the complaint and affidavit for the search warrant was insufficient to establish probable cause for a search warrant for Burns' home, and therefore Burns' motion to suppress was properly granted.
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