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 October 18, 2003
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New Hampshire court rules trash is private
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Concord, New Hampshire-AP -- What you throw away is your own business.

That's the gist of a ruling by the New Hampshire Supreme Court -- that your garbage is private even when it's out on the street for collection.

The decision runs counter to previous rulings by the U-S Supreme Court and high courts in other states. But New Hampshire justices say their state constitution provides a stronger expectation of privacy than the U-S one.

The decision came in a case in which police searched a man's trash and found wire scrapers coated with marijuana residue. Then they got a warrant to search his home, where they seized drugs.

The high court agreed four-to-one with the man's appeal -- saying police would have needed the warrant before searching his garbage, not after.

One of the justices says people don't voluntarily expose personal belongings when they leave trash out in sealed bags. But a dissenting justice says it's unreasonable for people to expect their trash to remain private when it's "readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers and snoops."

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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