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United States v. Klinginsmith – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Klinginsmith, 25 F.3d 1507 (10th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1059 (1994), appellant Klinginsmith was a passenger in a car driven by Fredrick Aldon Magee.

The men were driving on I-35, a highway that runs in a northeasterly direction from Wichita, Kansas, to Kansas City, Kansas. State troopers had devised a scheme to try to catch narcotics traffickers.

Outside Melvern, Kansas, they erected signs reading "NARCOTIC CHECK LANE AHEAD." The sign was a ruse, but police hoped that, if narcotics traffickers saw the sign, they would exit the highway at a particular exit.

When Magee exited the highway, troopers pursued his car. Magee eventually stopped the car in a gas station, and Troopers Simone and Heady asked questions of both Magee and Klinginsmith.

The two gave divergent stories as to where they had come from and where they were going. Both consented to a search of the car.

In the meantime, a canine unit arrived on the scene, and, before any search was undertaken, Magee's car was scanned, the dog making a positive alert.

"At this point, the officers handcuffed Magee and Klinginsmith," and the troopers eventually located a large amount of marijuana in the trunk of the car.

The Tenth Circuit held that "when the dog 'alerted,' there was probable cause to arrest Magee and Klinginsmith and to search the vehicle without a warrant under the automobile exception even had there been no prior consent." (Klinginsmith, 25 F.3d at 1510.)