The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has ruled in favor of a Chicago police officer who led the search of his daughter-in-law’s home for a medical marijuana plant that he helped grow.
Officer Curtis Scherr had been accused of violating the Fourth Amendment rights of daughter-in-law Jennifer Scherr when he obtained a search warrant against her using the personal information he had collected by growing the plant with her. According to Raw Story, Scherr’s motivation for obtaining the warrant stemmed from a family dispute involving an argument over where to keep the body and ashes of his granddaughter, who passed away in the weeks leading up to the search of the house by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The officer knew that his daughter-in-law had been growing marijuana in order to treat his granddaughter Liza’s brain tumor. He even had even purchased the necessary lightbulbs and advised Jennifer as to how to avoid any speculation from law enforcement officials.
Although Jennifer had already disposed of the marijuana plants and was not arrested as a result of the search of her home, she still sued her father-in-law for a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The judge presiding over Scherr’s case admitted that his actions were reprehensible but acknowledged that they were not technically illegal.
“Curtis’s behavior, which culminated in the DEA’s search of his daughter-in-law’s house, was, if it was as the complaint describes it, atrocious,” Judge Richard Posner wrote in the court’s decision.
The judge also wrote that Scherr’s personal involvement in growing the plants did not invalidate his decision to obtain a warrant for the crime.
“It is a sensible rule, though distasteful when applied in a case like this. Without the rule, challenges to the legality of warrants could, and doubtless often would, devolve into investigations, likely to be inconclusive, of the mental states of the police officers who had applied for them,” Posner wrote.
Although marijuana was illegal in Illinois in 2012 when Scherr obtained the warrant for his daughter-in-law’s arrest, the state recently launched a medical marijuana pilot program to be launched over the course of the next several months.