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Florida v. Jardines: The Wolf at the Castle Door
New York University Journal of Law & Liberty (2012)
  • Timothy C MacDonnell, Washington and Lee University School of Law
Even before the United States declared its independence, colonists believed that their homes were their castles. This belief had its origins in English common law, declared by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, William Pitt, in 1763: "The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter; the rain may enter; but the King of England cannot enter -- all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!" This doctrine is embodied in the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution and is currently at a crossroad.

Advances in technology and investigative technique have resulted in the "King," or government, being capable of entering a citizen's home without physically crossing its threshold. Today, the government can hear what is being said, see what is being done, and know what is being written, without a physical intrusion into the home. All that keeps the King from crossing the threshold of each citizens home is the Fourth Amendment and the Supreme Court's repeated declaration that "[a]t the very core of the Fourth Amendment stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion." On January 6, 2012, the United States Supreme Court granted cert. in the case of Florida v. Jardines, a case which has the potential to dramatically impact the degree of protection the Fourth Amendment provides individuals in their homes.

The purpose of this article is to thoroughly examine the controversy regarding the application of the contraband exception to the home and the potential impact of the Jardines decision. The article will begin by examining the cases that make up the Supreme Court's contraband exception and some of the Court's precedent regarding the home and warrantless searches. Next, the article will examine the Florida Supreme Court's holding in Jardines and discuss how the Florida court arrived at the conclusion that the canine sniff in that case was a search. This section will compare the Florida court's conclusions with Supreme Court precedent. Finally the article will examine the three most probable results of the Jardines decision and advocate for the Court's rejection of warrantless canine sniffs of the home.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Timothy C. MacDonnell, Florida v. Jardines: The Wolf at the Castle Door, in 7 N.Y.U. J. L. & Liberty 1 (2012).