The Fourth amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. The interpretation and execution of the Fourth amendment in the courtroom however, is decided by the Supreme Court in an attempt to find a fair balance between individual and community interests. The exclusionary rule for example, is a Supreme Court precedent that holds police departments responsible for seizing incriminating information according to constitutional specifications of due process, or the information will not be allowed as evidence in a criminal trial. The question that arises in turn, is whether the exclusionary rule has handcuffed the abilities to effectively protect the community by the police, or if it has actually resulted in a positive police reform which needs to be expanded upon.
My opinion is that although the exclusionary rule may significantly slow down the police department’s investigation and arrest process, it is a necessary “evil” in order to protect the rights of the individuals who in fact should not have their homes searched. I do however, agree that without the restrictions of the exclusionary rule police departments would be able to do their job a lot faster and more effectively, without having to worry about first getting a search warrant or after getting “slam dunk” evidence, having to see a case thrown out because it was not obtained through due process. My personal concern for allowing the police such a high level of discretion though, is that in the heat of the investigation and desire to catch or lock away a suspect, police may search the homes of people related, associated, or even suspected of having connections to the suspect in order to get information that could result in a guilty verdict, which would potentially violate the privacy of people who potentially are not connected to the crime or suspect being investigated.
If I was personally appointed by the President of The United States to serve in the Supreme Court for example, I would take a close look at the case of Mapp v. Ohio. In Mapp v Ohio the Cleveland Police Department forcibly entered the home of Dollree Mapp without a warrant in search of a wanted fugitive. The Cleveland Police failed to find a fugitive, but instead found a trunk full of obscene material which under Ohio law was illegal. When the
case went to court Mapp was initially convicted, through a series of appeals that eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court however, the conviction was overturned. As an appointed Supreme Court Justice, I would have absolutely done the same thing in overturning the decision on Mapps case. The reason for my vote or decision, would be that the police did not only forcibly enter the defendants home without a warrant, but they lied about having a warrant, and arrested her for a crime completely unrelated to what they were looking for if they had a warrant.
Even if the Police department had a warrant to search Mapp’s home for a fugitive, my first question would be what size the trunk was. If the trunk was a small one in turn, I would question why the Police opened it if the fugitive could not possibly be hiding inside the trunk. I believe that the actions of the Cleveland Police Department were abusive, deceptive, and overall destructive for the reputation of their police department, their complete disregard for due process if overlooked, could have possibly encouraged other police departments around the country to take similar approaches to investigations without consequence. I am confident in the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court and would not change it at all if I were appointed as a Supreme Court Justice myself.
Courtney from Study Moose
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