The defendant petitioned for review by the Florida Supreme Court and the district court decision was overturned reinstating the original ruling granting the motion to suppress. The State of Florida petitioned for certiorari review in the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard by the Supreme Court last fall. Long time Assistant Public Defender Howard Blumberg argued on behalf of Jardines.
The Court’s opinion in Jardines is narrowly crafted, focusing on the government’s physical intrusion into the constitutionally protected area immediately surrounding the home known as the “curtilage” for the purposes of gathering evidence. However, there is no implicit license to introduce “a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence.” Since the officers were able to discover that marijuana was being grown in the home only by “physically intruding on Jardines’ property to gather evidence,” the dog sniff search was unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant.
The majority opinion explicitly declined to consider whether the officers’ search of Jardines’ home violated his reasonable expectation of privacy; it was sufficient to find a constitutional violation based on what the Court characterized as “the traditional property-based understanding of the Fourth Amendment.” A concurring opinion from Justice Kagan and joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor went further. “Yes,” Justice Kagan wrote, the officers’ actions constituted a trespass. “Was it also an invasion of privacy? Yes, that as well.”