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9th Circuit vacates conviction for invalid search

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A federal appeals court has vacated the conviction of a man in southern Arizona because of an invalid search involving a drug-sniffing dog.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a district court must decide whether prosecutors can establish the reliability of the trained canine or Jonathan Michael Thomas should get a new trial.

Thomas was arrested in February 2010 at a Border Patrol checkpoint after about 150 pounds of marijuana was found in a locked toolbox in his truck. He eventually was sentenced to 30 months of incarceration.

Thomas appealed, saying the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights that prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures.

He says the dog failed to indicate that it smelled drugs in the toolbox and was led on by the border agent-handler.

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