A defendant convicted on a drug possession charge challenged the legality of using drug-sniffing dogs for probable cause for a strip search. The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the conviction of the defendant and the use of the drug-sniffing dog alert as probable cause to strip search in Commonwealth v. Elijah Judge.
Defendant was spotted by police with a group of people in a downtown Hyannis hotel parking lot. Police considered this spot a “problem property,” and knew it to be a location where police had previous narcotics investigations. Police watched the defendant for about an hour, and approximately 3 AM, the officer saw a woman and the defendant standing by the trunk of his car and looking around as if they were “conducting counter surveillance.” The officer also saw the defendant and the woman took something out of the trunk and put into the front of the car.
Believing he witnessed a drug transaction, the police officer called for backup. While waiting for backup, the police officer went to the car and turned on his lights. When approaching the car, he saw a “white powdery substance” on the center console of the car.