Appeals court overturns drug conviction

The Alaska Court of Appeals has thrown out the drug possession conviction of a man found with cocaine.

The court in an opinion released Friday ruled that Fairbanks police improperly searched 24-year-old Jeremiah M. Burgess shortly after midnight on July 11, 2008.

Police entered his unlocked home in response to a report of a fight.

Burgess was handcuffed and charged with disorderly conduct.

While seeking his identification, police took a plastic bag out of his pocket, and the bag contained cocaine.

Appeals judges concluded that the search of Burgess's pocket was beyond the proper scope of a search incident.

Judges say a pat down for weapons was acceptable but the search of the pocket could not be considered incidental to the disorderly conduct arrest.