Md. high court allows searches in good faith

October 21, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

A sharply divided Maryland Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a judge could issue a search warrant for an address based simply on police officers' good-faith assertions that a shipment of drugs is bound there.

In a 4-3 ruling, the state's highest court held that a judge reading an officer's affidavit for a search warrant could conclude that even though the package of drugs had not arrived, there was probable cause to search the address.

But the minority of the judges argued that the majority was setting a dangerous precedent that would allow someone to start a police search of a home by anonymously mailing drugs to a nonexistent person at a targeted address, then tip off inspectors to the contents of the package.

Lawyers for David F. McDonald, who was convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana in Montgomery County Circuit Court in November 1994, argued that the search warrant used to gather evidence against their client was flawed.

The affidavit used to obtain the warrant did not contain enough evidence to tie their client to the marijuana sent to the Rockville address McDonald shared with several others in 1994, they said.

Pub Date: 10/21/97

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