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Ore. court: Police can’t rummage through garbage without warrant


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon Supreme Court disagreed with more than 50 years of state case law by ruling that Oregonians retain a privacy interest in the garbage they leave on the curb for pick-up.

That means police can’t simply rummage through it, even after a truck hauls it away.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the court wrote on Thursday that the state’s residents have a reasonable expectation that after they leave their trash in opaque bins covered with a lid, no one will inspect it without a warrant.

The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Tracy Lynn Lien and Travis Allen Wilverding, who shared a home and were convicted of methamphetamine dealing after police in Lebanon asked the community’s garbage hauling company, Republic Services, to pick up and set aside the contents of the pair’s garbage on collection day in 2014.

Thursday’s ruling applies to curbside refuse collected from private homes. It doesn’t appear to apply to trash thrown in public garbage cans in public places. It’s unclear how the ruling might affect residents of condominiums or apartments, where trash is thrown in communal bins.

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