United States v. Roberts

2 M.J. 31 (1976)

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United States v. Roberts

United States Court of Military Appeals
2 M.J. 31 (1976)

Facts

An Air Force commander had 60 men in the squadron who worked with explosive substances. The commander was informed that 21 of these men were suspected of using illegal drugs. Two of the men were then caught with drugs at their duty stations. The commander decided to conduct a shakedown inspection of the squadron’s barracks on a Saturday at 4:30 a.m. using a drug-sniffing dog. The inspection’s only purpose was to search for drugs, and the commander had no reason to believe that any specific individual had drugs. The searchers opened the door to the barracks room for Air Force Sergeant George Roberts (defendant) and smelled marijuana. The dog alerted to marijuana in a cabinet, and marijuana was discovered inside that cabinet. A general court-martial was convened. Roberts was convicted of possessing marijuana and sentenced to hard labor for four months and a bad-conduct discharge. Roberts appealed, arguing that the marijuana evidence should have been excluded from the trial because it had been obtained unlawfully. Specifically, Roberts claimed that the shakedown inspection had violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures because, before the search, the commander had no probable cause to believe that Roberts possessed any drugs. The Air Force Court of Military Review affirmed the conviction, and Roberts appealed to the United States Court of Military Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Perry, J.)

Dissent (Cook, J.)

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