Supreme Court requests response to State’s petition on marijuana odor

[Update, 10/2/2017: The Supreme Court has denied certiorari.]

This March, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held in Norman v. State that an “odor of marijuana alone emanating from a vehicle with multiple occupants does not give rise to reasonable articulable suspicion that the vehicle’s occupants are armed and dangerous and subject to frisk.”

The State of Maryland petitioned for certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, posing the following question:

When a traffic officer smells the strong scent of raw marijuana emanating from a lawfully stopped car, the Fourth Amendment authorizes the officer to remove any passenger and to conduct a warrantless search of the car. Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 410 (1997); Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925). The question presented is: Does the Fourth Amendment also allow the officer in this situation to frisk a removed passenger for a weapon?

The defendant waived a response, but the Supreme Court’s website reflects that on August 1 it requested a response. According to a 2009 article, the odds of a certiorari grant are around 17% when the Supreme Court calls for a response to a petition on the paid docket. See David C. Thompson & Melanie F. Wachtell, An Empirical Analysis of Supreme Court Certiorari Petition Procedures: The Call for Response and the Call for the Views of the Solicitor General, 16 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 237, 250 (2009).

We’ll be keeping an eye on this petition.

 

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