If a tree falls in the forest

This story about a Florida Supreme Court decision upholding a drug arrest on the basis of a dog alert when no narcotics could be detected by humans reminds us of the dangers of outsourcing intelligent judgment to experts.  Apparently the science of dog detection is settled.


Grim said...

Now this really is a hard choice!

On the one hand, I'd generally rather trust a dog than a man. On the other hand, I'd like to see some evidence of wrongdoing before anyone gets deprived of freedom.

E Hines said...

Really, what's a stake here is probable cause based on a (trained) dog's alert, not the man's freedom. Harris had ample time to argue in favor of his freedom at all stages of the subsequent trial, and he had ample time to argue the question of a dog's alert (as the sole evident...probability) as sufficient probable cause.

Patrick's argument that the dog was alerting on his handler's desire rather than on actual contraband amounts to an essentially unsubstantiated claim, and it elides the premise on the other side--that the dog wasn't alerting on his handler's desire.

I, too, find for the dog.

Eric Hines

MikeD said...

While I love animals, I fail to see why we should be able to see the calibration records for a radar gun (used to determine cause for a speeding ticket) and not for a drug sniffing dog. Why is the machine's performance questionable, but the dog's beyond such considerations?