The Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday tossed out the 2009 conviction of a Medford man for bringing meth into the Jackson County Courthouse, saying the doorway search that led to his arrest was unconstitutional.

The Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday tossed out the 2009 conviction of a Medford man for bringing meth into the Jackson County Courthouse, saying the doorway search that led to his arrest was unconstitutional.

George Daniel Snow, 55, who has drug convictions reaching back into the early 1990s, won his appeal on grounds that the search and discovery of the drugs in a cigarette package by a security officer at the front door checkpoint constituted an unreasonable search and seizure.

Snow had sought to have that evidence suppressed, but Josephine County Circuit Court Judge Pat Wolke agreed with prosecutors who argued that the drugs were discovered during an "administrative search" for weapons by a security officer and not a criminal search by a deputy.

Prosecutors also argued that Snow consented to a search by entering the courthouse, which is peppered with signs warning visitors they may be searched for weapons and "any other items deemed inappropriate," according to the ruling.

Snow pleaded guilty in July 2009 to charges of possession and delivery of methamphetamine, then the state public defenders office filed the appeal that led to Thursday's decision.

Reached by telephone Friday, Snow declined to comment on the case.

Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston said the state Attorney General's Office attorneys will decide in the next few weeks whether to appeal Thursday's decision to the Oregon Supreme Court.

If the appeals decision stands, prosecutors would not have evidence needed to retry Snow, Huddleston said.

Huddleston said courthouse officials and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department may revise its search policies based on Thursday's ruling.

"Any time appellate courts question the viability of a search policy, then, yes, it does require us to re-examine the policy," Huddleston said. "At least we should consider whether the policy needs some revisions."

Ingrid MacFarlane, a Salem attorney who worked on the appeals case for the Office of Public Defense Services, said the ruling could have ramifications in other county courthouses only if they had search policies similar to Jackson County's.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.