Eugene Riley was pulled over for running a stop light. After determining that there was an outstanding warrant, police arrested Mr. Riley. After he had been arrested and was in handcuffs, police searched his car, finding methamphetamine. At his trial, Mr. Riley claimed that the vehicle belonged to someone else and that he had no knowledge of the drugs being in the car. He was convicted of possession of methamphetamine.
During the prosecution, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Arizona v. Gant. In that case, the Supreme Court had held that police may not search a vehicle after an arrest unless they are searching for evidence related to the offense for which the arrest was made.
The Court of Appeals held in this case (2-1), that because the police were operating under a good faith belief that their conduct was constitutional, the evidence they found (methamphetamine) was admissible at trial. The majority didn’t seem to care that the search was actually unconstitutional, only that the police thought it was at the time. The majority also declined to state that the search was unconstitutional under article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution.
The dissent disagreed. The dissent stated that under controlling Washington Supreme Court precedent, the search was unconstitutional under art. I, sec. 7 of the Washington constitution and should have been suppressed.
Note to Supreme Court: The dissent appears to be interpreting the state constitution according to your recent precedent.