NM Supreme Court: Aerial surveillance without warrant violates 4th Amendment

Yesterday, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued its opinion in the closely-watched case of State v. Norman Davis. The case began in 2006, when a police helicopter spotted marijuana plants in a greenhouse owned by Mr. Davis in Taos County. The question presented was whether aerial surveillance constitutes a search requiring a warrant.

Justice Bosson, writing for the majority, held that the warrantless aerial surveillance of Mr. Davis’ property violated the Fourth Amendment, and thus found it unnecessary to decide whether the search also violated the New Mexico Constitution.

Justice Chavez concurred with the result, but he did not agree that the search violated the Fourth Amendment. He would have held that the search violated the New Mexico Constitution.

The Court’s decision to base its holding on the Fourth Amendment creates the possibility of review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

I have previously written about this case here, here, and here.

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