19 Dec 2003

Marshall Islands High Court rules on contested car search

11:36 am on 19 December 2003

The Marshall Islands High Court has ruled that a police search of a vehicle of a man arrested for drunk driving was illegal and the marijuana discovered in the car cannot be used as evidence.

The ruling confirms the provision of the Marshalls constitution that says any search is unreasonable if it was done without a court-approved warrant when there was adequate time to get one.

Danny Balos was charged with narcotics possession as well as driving under the influence of alcohol in August after a search of his car found a small bag of marijuana.

One police officer testifying in the case said in his 20 years on the force he has never head to get a search warrant to search a vehicle that was impounded as part of a drink driving arrest.

But Daniel Goundar, the government's chief public defender, hailed the court ruling saying it confirmed the rights of Marshall Islanders to be safe from unwarranted searches.