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CASE STUDY

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The Edmonds Police Department received an anonymous tip contained in a mailed note that Robert Young was growing marijuana in his house. A police detective went to the address. He noted that the windows of the house were always covered, bright lights never could be seen inside, and there was no apparent odor of marijuana detectable from the public sidewalk. The detective obtained records of Young's electric power consumption and believed it to be unusually high - a factor that is prior experience suggested to him was consisted with the cultivation of marijuana. The detective contacted the federal DEA, which supplied an agent trained in the use of infrared thermal detection equipment. This equipment, when used at night, can detect manmade heat sources. Young's house was subjected to thermal surveillance, and the results suggested a pattern consistent with the growth of marijuana; the downstairs, for example, was warmer than the upstairs portion of the house. The detective used this information to establish probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant. Officers executing the search warrant found marijuana in the house, and Young was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or deliver. Young sought to suppress the evidence on the grounds that the infrared surveillance of his home constituted an infringement of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a corresponding right under the Washington State Constitution (where this actual case occurred). Do you believe the suppression motion should be granted? How would you rule? In a paragraph or two, explain your answer and be sure to backup with points of law.

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Hello!
Let's begin with some background on the Kyollo case, which is very similar to the one you describe. As you may already know, Kyollo made it all the way to the US Supreme Court. It involved government agents who suspected that marijuana was being grown in Kyollo's home. Indoor marijuana growth requires high-intensity lamps, and in order to determine whether an amount of heat was emanating from petitioner's home consistent with the use of such lamps, agents used a piece of equipment called the Agema Thermovision 210 thermal imager to scan the building. The scan showed that the roof over the garage and a side wall of petitioner's home were relatively hot compared to the rest of the home and substantially warmer than neighboring homes. Agents concluded that petitioner ...

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