Mail Checks Ruled Illegal
The U.S.Customs Service may no longer open mail from overseas to look for drugs without a search warrant, according to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington. D.C.The ruling reversed the convictions of Charles W.Ramsey and James W. Kelly, recently sentenced to 10 to 30 years for allegedly smuggling $l-million worth of drugs into the United States through the malls.
Two other circuit courts have held such searches to be legale however. This judicial inconsistency will probably send the case to the Supreme Court« Many coulis have allowed Customs agents to search anything else without warrants. In making an exception for maiU Judge Carl McGowan wrote, "Letters ... implicate both our deepest privacy and our interest in free expression, far more than packages or suitcases or automobiles:' McGowan also cited mail tampering by the CIA as a reason to uphold this Fourth
Amendment protection of privacy.
The ruling will not slop inspection of mail for dope, however. The court suggested mail should be sniffed by dogs or x-rayed before- getting a warrant to open suspicious packages. They recommended special magistrates be assigned to major post offices to review requests for warrants.
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