SAN FRANCISCO — Police searching for marijuana do not violate privacy rights when they spy the plants while circling in a plane from public airspace above covered greenhouses, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The decision allows prosecutors to reinstate a three-count indictment against six Yuba County residents in a 1982 case.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal prosecutors should be allowed to use 553 marijuana plants seized as evidence in the trial.
The decision overturns a lower court ruling that the plants were seized as a result of an illegal search when police circled a covered greenhouse to spot the plants.
"It is apparent that the police saw, from public navigable airspace, what anyone else could have seen from that position: outlines, shadows and colors of vegetation which resembled marijuana," wrote Judge Thomas Tang for the three-member court.