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ACLU-WA Stops School District from Performing Illegal Searches on Students

ACLU-WA succeeded in stopping a school district from implementing a policy that would have grossly infringed on students’ Fourth Amendment rights. Read More »
Police Practices

Warrantless Searches: Once again, Washington Supreme Court Protects Privacy

If there truly is reason to believe there is evidence of a crime in a vehicle, it is easy enough for the officer to secure the vehicle and obtain a warrant. It’s only in cases where a warrant would be difficult to obtain — cases where there is nothing more than a hunch at play — that this exception comes into play. Read More »

US Supreme Court Strips Away Rights, but Washington Law Covers Privacy

Monday mornings can be difficult for all of us, but this week an extra distressing piece of news arrived at the week’s start. It was the United States Supreme Court’s ruling grossly expanding the circumstances in which a person can be strip-searched. It’s a reminder of one reason I’m glad that I live in Washington state. Read More »

Mission Creep: The Patriot Act and the War on Drugs

One disturbing consequence of the Patriot Act, which just marked its ten-year anniversary, is how it has been used for law enforcement actions not related to combating terrorism -- the rationale for the Act's passage. A glaring example can be seen in the use of "sneak and peak” searches for drug crimes. Read More »

Drug-Sniffing Dogs in Schools Make Every Student a Suspect

Last month, a high school in southeastern Washington conducted a suspicionless drug search. Students were asked to leave their classroom so that a police officer with a “drug-detection dog” could check their backpacks for signs of drug possession. After the search, two students were singled out for a more invasive search and questioning. One had marijuana paraphernalia in his backpack; in the other, no signs of drugs or drug paraphernalia could be found. Good news for the second student—after the humiliating and anxiety-producing search was complete, he was permitted to go back to class. Read More »

Arrestees Should Not Have Their DNA Taken

A person’s DNA is the blueprint of one’s identity. The ACLU-WA opposes proposals to collect DNA from people who are merely arrested, regardless of whether they are convicted. Read More »

State v. Valdez (Vehicle Searches)

The ACLU-WA has filed an amicus brief with the Washington Supreme Court saying that the state constitution prohibits vehicle searches based solely on the arrest of the driver. Searches should only be allowed with a warrant, or when there is a reasonable threat to officer safety or a reasonable likelihood of destruction of evidence related to the crime for which the driver was arrested. Even if a basic search is allowed, the use of a dog is improper because it cannot distinguish between accessible areas of a car and inaccessible areas, such as locked containers. Read More »

State of Washington v. Joseph Douglas Neth (Dog Searches without a Warrant)

On January 18, 2006, Joseph Neth was driving from Vancouver to
Goldendale when he was stopped for speeding. The
officer did a records check and discovered an unconfirmed outstanding warrant for
driving with a suspended license. A drug-sniffing dog arrived, sniffed along the
exterior of the car, and "hit" on the passenger door. The officers then
impounded the car. They applied for a search warrant the following day.

Like homes, vehicles are also a constitutionally protected area.
This Court recognized long ago that Washingtonians have a strong privacy
interest in their automobiles, and there is no Washington "automobile
exception" allowing a search without a warrant. Read More »