The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the drug conviction of a Riley County man Friday, finding that an RCPD officer violated the accused’s constitutional rights by conducting a warrantless search.
In a 6-1 decision, the state’s highest court reversed a conviction rendered by Judge Meryl Wilson against James Campbell, saying the arresting officer did not have the right to search Campbell’s apartment.
It found that while officers are permitted to enter a suspect’s apartment in certain emergency situations, no such situation existed when RCPD Officer Thomas Nible entered Campbell’s apartment and arrested him.
Campbell had been convicted and sentenced to 37 months in prison on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of a firearm. The court ordered a new trial for him.
According to trial testimony, Nible was investigating a noise complaint involving Campbell’s cat when he approached the accused’s apartment and detected the smell of burning marijuana. He attempted to get Campbell to open the door, and when Campbell cracked it open Nible testified that he saw a gun in the suspect’s hand along with seeing marijuana and a bong inside the apartment. Nible testified that he forced the door open. Officers did later find a gun in the apartment.
But Nible’s attorney, Patrick Dunn, successfully argued that evidence collected as a result of Nible’s search was illegal because Nible lacked a warrant and also lacked grounds for conducting the search.
The decision was written by Justice Nancy Moritz. Justice Dan Biles dissented, supporting the legality of the search.