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ND high court rules accidental arrest OK

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BISMARCK – The North Dakota Supreme Court has upheld a Grand Forks court ruling against a Minnesota man who claimed police violated his constitutional rights when they arrested him while carrying out an unrelated search warrant.


Luke Adam Gatlin of East Grand Forks, Minn., was hiding in a closet when police found him while searching a Grand Forks home for someone else, according to court documents.

Officers learned Gatlin had an active arrest warrant against him. While booking him at the county jail, they found a meth pipe in his pocket and charged him with possession of drug paraphernalia – in addition to the initial charges of theft and refusing to halt.

Among Gatlin’s arguments was that the pipe should be thrown out as evidence because officers had violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, according to the court opinion.

Under North Dakota law, house guests are entitled to object to a police search and may move in court to throw out evidence recovered during the search, the court opinion indicated.

But the courts ruled that Gatlin never objected to the search while it was happening, and so he “loses out” on his opportunity to exclude evidence, according to the court opinion.

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