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The U.S Supreme Court on Jan. 24 decided, 6-2, that drug-sniffing dogs can be used to check out motorists even if officers have no reason to suspect that they may be carrying narcotics. Illinois v. Caballes, No. 03-923. The court sided with Illinois police who stopped Roy Caballes in 1998 for driving over the speed limit on a stretch of Interstate Route 80. Although Caballes produced his driver’s license, the state trooper noticed air freshener in the car and asked for permission to search the trunk. Caballes refused, but officers searched it later anyway after the dog indicated there were drugs in the trunk. The troopers subsequently found $250,000 worth of marijuana. Caballes’ conviction was later thrown out by the Illinois Supreme Court, a ruling reversed by the justices. Caballes argued that the Fourth Amendment protects motorists from searches such as dog sniffing. Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said, “The dog sniff was performed on the exterior of respondent’s car while he was lawfully seized for a traffic violation. Any intrusion on respondent’s privacy expectations does not rise to the level of a constitutionally cognizable infringement.” He was joined by justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter dissented. Ginsburg complained about broadening police search powers, saying that the use of drug dogs will make routine traffic stops more “adversarial.” The justices’ unanimous ruling that the contingent fee portion of lawsuit settlements and awards is taxable to the client, even if the money goes directly to the attorney, is discussed here. Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Banks and Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Banaitis, nos. 03-892 and 03-907. -AP

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