Your door knob "rats" you out
It seems some enthusiastic Police Officers in Utah have taken to swabbing peoples door knobs and analyzing the results for illegal chemical composition. (DRUGS)
The cops are then using that "evidence" as probable cause to obtain a search warrant. The theory the Police are using to justify this is that YOUR doorknob is on the OUTSIDE of your home and therefore you have NO REASONABLE expectation of privacy.
Both Jed and Heartless make some very good comments concerning property rights and the expectation of privacy within the boundries of your own property.
I agree with their assesments and would further point out that in many states if the owner has rented the property, even he/she must provide (in some cases in writing) 24 hours notice that they intend to enter the property or domicile, unless it is a case of emergency.
In these cases the owner has has given "Castle Domain" over to the renters, they are paying for their use of the property and their rights MUST be respected, EVEN by the person or entity that actually owns it.
How then do Police officers have the power to enter on that property and collect evidence without a warrant. Rules of "Plain Sight Discovery" cannot apply in this case. Yes the doorknob is usually in "plain sight" but how many Police Officers have the "microscope sight" and built in "mass spectrometer" capability to SEE the chemical residue on a doorknob?
Log book lies
A few years ago the Department of Transportation for the state of State of Iowa began scanning the log books and drivers licenses of truck drivers that pulled into weigh stations. The documents were scanned by a mass spectrometer and those drivers whose records showed traces of illegal substances were held for further investigation.
What the scientists say
In 1999, Thomas Jourdan, a top scientist for the FBI concluded that most American paper money has trace elements of illegal drugs.
While this article emphesises the use of dogs that hit on residue laden cash, Jourdan reports that; says 85 percent to 90 percent of the currency in the United States has measurable amounts of cocaine. "A new bill is kind of a wall-to-wall sticky surface in a microscopic sense," Jourdan said. "And over the course of that bill's life, it gets things to adhere to it as well as drugs of abuse."
Janet Reno & Jeb Bush???
Terry Hall, an expert witness from Miami, Florida, is the Labratory director for Toxicology Testing Services Inc, and has testified in over 500 drug cases. Among the chemical tests he has conducted one is most noteworthy; He conducted a test for a Florida newspaper in the 1980s that retrieved bills from 10 prominent citizens. Nine of the bills had cocaine on them, he says. Among those who gave money that tested positive for cocaine were Jeb Bush, who went on to become Florida's governor, and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, at the time the chief prosecutor for Dade County.
Jourdan explains the reason for the residual contamination of 85 to 90 percent of the money circulated in America; Cash seized from drug dealers isn't destroyed but goes back into circulation. The cocaine from those bills falls into the mechanical currency counters banks use, Jourdan said, and those counters then spread the cocaine to the other bills they sort, essentially "homogenizing'' the monetary supply.
Courts are evening reversing themselves
Even courts, that have in the past ruled probable cause existed on trace amounts of drug residue, have been reevaluating their own judgement in the matter. The 9th Circuit Court of appeals had this to say in 1994: "We have previously found such an alert to be 'strong evidence' when making a probable cause determination,'' the panel said in the ruling. "In recent years, however, subsequent courts, including our own, have questioned the probative value of positive dog alerts due to the contamination of America's paper money supply with narcotics residue."
With all of the documented evidence of contamination in existance and the fact that many courts are reversing themselves on the subject, it would seem that the overzelous officers of the law in the beehive state are skating on some pretty thin ice.