January 27, 2018
Last fall, Border Patrol agents set up a checkpoint on I-93 in Woodstock, New Hampshire, which is about 90 miles south of the border with Canada. They didn’t find any undocumented aliens but, since they had a trusty drug-sniffing dog with them, they DID arrest a number of people who had small amounts of pot in their vehicles.
Possession of pot is no longer a crime in New Hampshire, but last August it was still a misdemeanor. But the U.S. Attorney’s office had no interest in charging any of these folks in federal court. But the local prosecutor decided he would prosecute in state court.
Enter the ACLU.
You see, the arrests violated the New Hampshire constitution’s ban on illegal searches and seizures, a ban which is more expansive than that contained in the federal constitution. (In New Hampshire, you need probable cause to have a dog sniff a car; under the federal constitution, you don’t). But, responded the prosecutor, the evidence was obtained legally by federal officers, who then conveniently handed over the pot to the State for prosecution. True, retorted the ACLU, but the Woodstock Police officers WERE STANDING RIGHT THERE AS THE FEDS DID THEIR DIRTY WORK.
New Hampshire can’t stop federal officers from enforcing federal law in the Granite State. But it can jolly well prevent local officers from colluding with them to violate the state constitution.
A decision on the ACLU’s motion to have all of the evidence suppressed as not yet been issued.