On May 7, 2014, Judge Michael Andrews entered an order (read here) granting a motion to suppress in a drug trafficking case. Judge Andrews heard testimony from five law enforcement witnesses, all who have for several years been assigned to St. Petersburg Police Department’s drug interdiction unit. Attorneys Jordan Tawil and Erin Antonio worked together on challenging the legality of the search of their client’s vehicle. Officer Brandon Bill, one of the 5 officers involved in the case, justified the search by testifying that he had smelled the odor of marijuana thus giving him probable cause to search. Judge Andrews stated in his order that, “It stretches the limits of credulity for this court to believe that the search of the defendant’s vehicle was based upon the odor of marijuana.” Judge Andrews went on to say that Officer Bill’s testimony was “discredited, controverted, contradictory, and incredible.” According to Judge Andrews, the limits of credulity would be stretched to believe that although 4 drug investigation officers with the same level of experience had direct contact with the defendant and his vehicle, only Officer Bill claimed to have smelled marijuana. Additionally, the search did not yield marijuana seeds, stems, leaves, paraphernalia, nor was the odor on or about the defendant. Therefore, Judge Andrews found no probable cause for the search. It appears that you can’t stretch the limits of credulity or the constitution in Judge Andrews’ courtroom. Reaction? FloridaYouJudge!
Judge Andrews has been awarded the Florida Supreme Court’s Distinguished Judicial Service Award and the Pinellas Education Foundation’s Unsung Hero Award.