United States v. Gardner

41 M.J. 189 (1994)

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United States v. Gardner

United States Court of Military Appeals
41 M.J. 189 (1994)

Facts

The headquarters commander of the 21st Theater Army Area Command in Germany had a written policy that threatened harsh punishments for using illegal drugs. The commander periodically ordered inspections to collect urine samples from the entire unit for drug testing. In 20 such inspections, two servicemembers had tested positive for drugs. On each occasion, the servicemember was given nonjudicial punishment for the first offense. One of the servicemembers tested positive a second time. Instead of prosecuting the servicemember criminally for this second offense, the commander discharged the servicemember from the military. During the commander’s twenty-first inspection to collect urine samples, Army Sergeant First Class Kelvin Gardner (defendant) provided a sample of water instead of urine. Gardner was charged with dereliction of duty and convicted. On appeal, Gardner claimed that the urine-collection inspection was a pretext for seeking evidence of criminal activity and, therefore, violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. In support of his claim, Gardner provided evidence that many commands within that same theater had taken disciplinary and criminal actions against soldiers whose urine tested positive for drugs during urine-collection inspections. Gardner also pointed out that because the command was in Europe, all positive drug-test results were shared with military law-enforcement agencies.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wiss, J.)

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