The Supreme Court declined yesterday to hear the appeal of a Virginia drug trafficker who claimed that his constitutional right to privacy was violated by an "uninvited canine nose."
Henry L. Wolkind, now 25, was arrested aboard an Amtrak train in suburban Richmond in 1976 when a "sniffer" dog named Czar detected marijuana inside a sleeping compartment where Wolkind was traveling. The marijuana was double wrapped in plastic garbage bags inside a locked suitcase there.
Wolkind's lawyer, Charles A. Horsky, in arguing for Supreme Court consideration of the case, said his client's conviction on drug charges will "nourish" extensive police intrusions on privacy.
"If use of Czar can never violate the Fourth Amendment, then Czar is a living general warrant which police may use to search at will," Horsky said.
Acting on a tip, Henrico County police boarded the train on Dec. 11, 1976, with Czar. The dog was told to "find the drugs." Czar, police who say has never made a mistake, signaled he had found drugs by scratching and biting the door of a private sleeping compartment.
The occupant, Wolkind, was asked to step into the corridor. When he did so, Czar "alerted" the officers to a small suitcase under the bed. Inside, the officers found marijuana in plastic bags.
The dog's owner and handler, Gary Tayler, later testified that Czar, a German shepherd, has a sense of smell at least 100,000 times sharper than a human's.
In the train, Czar also alerted when police pulled a Samsonite suitcase from an overhead rack and put it on a bed. The luggage contained a small amount of cocaine inside a plastic film canister, police said.
Wolkind tried to have the drugs suppressed as evidence in his Henrico County trial on the grounds that police lacked probable cause to make a search and did not have a warrant as he said the Fourth Amendment required.
A Virginia state judge ruled against Wolkind, and he was convicted of possession of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He was sentenced to nine months in jail. The Virginia Supreme Court had also declined review of his conviction.