from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, No.
3DI-11-210 C R Dillingham, Fred Torrisi, Judge.
Laurence Blakely, Mendel & Associates, Anchorage, under
contract with the Public Defender Agency, and Quinlan
Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.
A. Gilson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal
Appeals, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General,
Juneau, for the Appellee.
Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, and Allard, Judge.
9, 2011, acting on several informants' tips, two police
officers stopped Ethan Ryan Moore at the Dillingham airport
shortly after he retrieved his two pieces of luggage from
baggage claim. The officers told Moore that they believed he
was transporting marijuana, and they asked Moore for
permission to search his luggage. Moore, who was on his way
to Togiak, declined to consent to this search. The officers
then seized both pieces of Moore's luggage, transported
them to the Dillingham police station, and contacted the
local magistrate to apply for a search warrant.
hearing the warrant application, the magistrate concluded
that there was no probable cause for the search, so he
refused to issue the search warrant. More specifically, the
magistrate concluded that the officers had failed to provide
sufficient proof of their informants' credibility to
satisfy the Aguilar-Spinelli test. 
the magistrate issued this ruling, he invited the officers to
present more information to corroborate their informants.
officers did not present more information to the magistrate
and ask him to reconsider his decision. Nor did the officers
acquiesce in the magistrate's decision and return
Moore's luggage to him. Instead, the officers kept
Moore's luggage overnight and then, the next morning,
they shipped it to the Alaska State Troopers in Anchorage.
After the luggage arrived in Anchorage, it was subjected to
sniffing by a drug-detection dog. The dog alerted to the
luggage, and the troopers then applied for a search warrant,
this time in front of an Anchorage judge. The warrant was
ensuing search of Moore's luggage disclosed seven
vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana totaling approximately seven
ounces. Based on the discovery of this marijuana, Moore was
charged with, and later convicted of, fourth-degree
controlled substance misconduct. 
appeal, Moore argues that, after the Dillingham magistrate
refused to issue the search warrant, it was illegal for the
Dillingham officers to retain his luggage overnight and then
ship it to Anchorage - and that all of the ensuing
investigative efforts (the dog sniff and the second search
warrant application) were tainted by this illegality.
reasons explained in this opinion, we agree with Moore, and
we therefore reverse his conviction.
State’s contention that the Dillingham officers needed
only reasonable suspicion to hold Moore’s luggage
overnight and then ship it to Anchorage for further
does not contest that the Dillingham officers had reasonable
suspicion to believe that he was carrying marijuana for
commercial purposes - and that the officers therefore had the
authority to temporarily seize his luggage so that they might
apply for a search warrant. See Pooley v. State, 705
P.2d 1293, 1307 (Alaska App. 1985); LeMense v.
State, 754 P.2d 268, 272-73 (Alaska App. 1988).
Moore argues that the officers exceeded their authority when
they retained his luggage overnight and then shipped it to
Anchorage for further investigative efforts. The State, in
turn, responds that the officers were simply pursuing the
most prompt investigative efforts that were available to them
under the circumstances, since there were no drug-sniffing
dogs in Dillingham.
resolve these arguments, we must examine and more clearly
define the scope of police authority to conduct temporary
investigative seizures of travelers' luggage based on
United States Supreme Court discussed the limits that the
Fourth Amendment places on temporary investigative detentions
of luggage in United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696,
708-710; 103 S.Ct. 2637, 2645-46; 77 L.Ed.2d 110 (1983).
Place, the Supreme Court firmly rejected the
government's argument that temporary investigative
seizures of travelers' luggage could be more intrusive -
i.e., of greater scope and duration - than
investigative seizures of travelers themselves:
The premise of the Government's argument is that seizures
of property are generally less intrusive than seizures of the
person. While true in some circumstances, that premise is
faulty on the facts ... in this case. The precise type of
detention we confront here is seizure of personal luggage
from the immediate possession of [a] suspect for the purpose
of arranging exposure to a narcotics detection dog.
Particularly in the case of detention of luggage within the
traveler's immediate possession, the police conduct
intrudes on both the suspect's possessory interest in his
luggage as well as his liberty interest in proceeding with
his itinerary. The person whose luggage is detained is
technically still free to continue his travels or carry out
other personal activities pending release of the luggage. ...
Nevertheless, such a seizure can effectively restrain the
person[, ] since he is subjected to the possible disruption
of his travel plans in order to remain with his luggage or to
arrange for its return. Therefore, when the ...