Was police dog sniff outside Berlin condo door legal?

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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

HARTFORD — A Connecticut marijuana bust has turned into a potential precedent-setting case on whether apartment and condo dwellers have the same rights as house owners when it comes to police using drug-sniffing dogs outside their homes.

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in the case of Dennis Kono, who was arrested in 2012 after a police dog deployed without a warrant in a condo building hallway in Berlin smelled marijuana near his door. Berlin police then obtained a search warrant for Kono’s condo and found several small marijuana plants, seeds, growing equipment and firearms.

A trial court judge dismissed the charges, saying the police dog’s sniffing violated Kono’s expectation of privacy inside his home and the search warrant of his condo should not have been approved.

Prosecutors are appealing, saying there should be no expectation of privacy in a common hallway.

House owners already are protected under a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning police dog sniffing outside houses without a warrant.