In Drug Appeals, Ore. Court Says Curbside Garbage Is Private


The right to privacy is not abandoned when people set out their garbage at the curb, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled. The Associated Press reports that defendants in two separate cases had argued that police illegally searched their trash cans. In one case, Portland police hauled away and searched the garbage of Police Officer Gina Hoesly in March 2002 and found evidence of several illegal drugs. She was charged with possessing cocaine and methamphetamine. The ruling means the illegally seized trash can’t be used as evidence.

In the other case, state police in July 2001 found a small amount of marijuana in garbage they had taken from a can at the home of Thad and Amy Galloway. Officers then got a search warrant and found a marijuana growing operation and methamphetamine at the house and charged them with drug crimes. Police did not obtain search warrants in either case. Prosecutors argued that people who put their garbage at the curb have given up “privacy or possessory interests” in it. The appeals court disagreed, saying, “Defendants did not implicitly authorize anyone else to paw through their garbage and view or take items of garbage.”


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