The Vermont Supreme Court ruling says a driver who claims racial profiling may bring suit against the officer, and casts doubt on the scent of marijuana as a valid basis for a search. Defense lawyers and civil rights groups praise the decision as a step to ending racial profiling.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), which submitted a joint amicus brief in 2018 in support of Zullo, lauded the decision: “All people in this country should be able to trust that law enforcement is not targeting them for any improper purpose. And now the Vermont Supreme Court has held that the people of Vermont have a path to vindicate their rights should they be so violated.”
Black drivers are around four times more likely than white drivers to be searched after a stop, and Hispanic drivers are around three times more likely. But research done in the state of Vermont shows that Black and Hispanic drivers “are less likely to be found with contraband that leads to citation or an arrest,” according to the NACDL brief.
New York attorney Lindsay Lewis, who oversaw the NACDL joint amicus brief, said individuals not just in Vermont, but across the country, should be able to trust they are not being improperly targeted by law enforcement.Source: Injustice Watch