Multiple felony charges in Blaine County 5th District Court against a former Victor, Idaho, man, who once served prison time in England for operating one of the most advanced hallucinogenic manufacturing operations in the nation, have been dropped after the alleged seizure of drugs during a traffic stop in Bellevue was deemed unconstitutional.
Casey William Hardison, 46, faced two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to traffic marijuana, all of which were felonies, as well as misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. All the charges were dismissed.
Hardison was arrested Feb. 21 after a traffic stop and subsequent search allegedly yielded cocaine and two pounds of marijuana. However, Judge Jonathan Brody ruled on Aug. 8 that the traffic stop was unconstitutionally delayed without reasonable suspicion, which allowed a drug-sniffing dog time to detect the presence of controlled substances in Hardison’s vehicle.
Bellevue Deputy Marshal Andy McClure wrote in a report that he was northbound on Main Street in Bellevue around 10:55 p.m. on Feb. 21 when he saw a gray 2008 Volvo SUV, driven by Hardison, in the southbound lane going 65 mph in a 35 mph zone. He wrote that he stopped the car near the intersection of Main and Spruce streets.
According to Brody’s memorandum granting the defense’s motion to suppress evidence gathered from the stop, McClure approached the vehicle and asked Hardison for his license and the vehicle’s registration, and Hardison informed McClure that the vehicle had been purchased recently, so a temporary registration was in the windshield. Brody wrote that McClure returned to his patrol vehicle to begin processing the ticket.
But while he was walking to his patrol vehicle, Brody wrote, McClure stopped to call for a canine officer to sniff the vehicle for controlled substances, and he stopped about 18 seconds later to again request a canine officer. Further, once a canine officer arrived, McClure returned to Hardison’s vehicle to again ask for registration, which Hardison again said was in the windshield, Brody wrote, and around this time, the canine officer detected controlled substances in the vehicle. A search then allegedly found marijuana and cocaine, Brody wrote.
But, citing case law including Idaho Supreme Court rulings, Brody ruled that McClure twice violated Hardison’s Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
“The seizure of a citizen is reasonable, under the Fourth Amendment, so long as the officer had reasonable suspicion of a violation,” Brody wrote. “However, the officer’s authority to continue the seizure ends when the stop is completed, or when it reasonably should have been completed. The extension of a traffic stop for even a ‘de minimus’ amount of time is prohibited.”
Brody ruled that not only was McClure’s 18-second delay between his first and second request for a canine officer unreasonable, but that McClure had no reasonable suspicion to call for a canine officer at all. Since there was no reasonable suspicion, Brody wrote, the Idaho Supreme Court is clear that “any delay is reasonable grounds for suppression.”
“There was not reasonable suspicion to seize [Hardison] on a controlled substance charge, only speeding,” Brody wrote.
And beyond that, Brody ruled that McClure’s second request for Hardison’s vehicle registration, combined with the initial 18-second delay, allowed the canine officer time it would not have otherwise had to detect controlled substances.
“While that delay was related to the purpose of the stop, the repetition of information that Officer McClure had already obtained constitutes an unnecessary delay and extension of the stop, which provided the drug dog with additional time to search,” Brody wrote.
Because of the delays and the lack of reasonable suspicion, Brody suppressed all evidence obtained during the traffic stop. On Aug. 14, prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss all charges, which was granted on Aug. 17.
According to The Brighton Argus newspaper in England, Hardison, an advocate of “cognitive liberty”—the theory that an individual should be free to alter their consciousness as he or she pleases, as long as it doesn’t harm others—was convicted in Sussex, England, in 2005 of producing more than $6 million worth of hallucinogenic drugs. Hardison testified that he sold primarily to friends, according to The Argus.
Hardison served nine years of a 20-year prison sentence, during which, he said, he studied law and current affairs, before being released and deported to the U.S. He then moved to Victor, but he told the Idaho Mountain Express that he now lives in Northern California.