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SJC throws out evidence in Boston College drug case

Posted by Swati Gauri Sharma  November 17, 2010 10:34 AM

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The SJC ruling overturned a decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which found in December 2009 that police had acted within their rights when they searched the room.

Daniel Carr and John Sherman faced charges of trafficking in cocaine, possession with intent to distribute psilocybin mushrooms, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana after the search of their room in February 2007.

While prosecutors argued that the students had given campus police officers permission to search the room, with the students verbally agreeing to fill out a consent form, Superior Court Judge Linda E. Giles found that officers had given "discrepant" testimony about what the students had said that night.

The SJC also said that the consent forms were only partially filled out, with the students signing one half that acknowledged they were waiving their Miranda rights, but not signing the other half, which consented to the search.

"In sum, the evidence before the judge was equivocal and supported her conclusion that the Commonwealth had not met its burden," the high court said.

The Appeals Court ruling had troubled some individual-rights activists because it found that campus police who are enforcing university policies operate under somewhat different rules when it comes to restrictions on searches under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution and Article 14 of the state Constitution.

The SJC, in today's ruling, did not address those issues, however, saying, "Because the drugs and other evidence will be suppressed, we need not decide whether the initial entry into the room was lawful."

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