Justice McDonald And The Fourth Amendment

It is still early in Justice Andrew McDonald’s judicial career, but does anyone else see the makings of a justice who is not afraid to say “no” to the state in Fourth Amendment cases?

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Rights v. Utility And The Fourth Amendment Ctd.

New York criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield, who blogs at Simple Justice, has a terrific follow-up on his blog to my immediately preceding post. His post is well worth reading. (He also has some very kind words to say about my post, for which I thank him.)


Rights v. Utility And The Fourth Amendment

Connecticut public defender and blogger Gideon and I had a spirited exchange the other week about the Connecticut Supreme Court’s recent decision in State v. Kelly, which concerned the legality of a warrantless Terry stop (and resultant arrest) of a person whom the police had no reason to suspect of having done anything wrong, must less anything criminal.  So why did the Court hold that the detention and subsequent arrest of this person was constitutional?  Because he happened to be walking down the street with someone the police reasonably suspected of a crime.  A clearer case of “guilt by association” would be hard to find.

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The NSA Rulings: Which Judge Is Right?

In the span of ten days, two federal district court judges have issued diametrically opposed rulings on the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s metadata collection program.  One judge said the program is almost certainly unconstitutional, while the other judge said it is perfectly constitutional.  Read the rest of this entry »


“Stop And Frisk” Policy Stopped and Frisked

New York Federal District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin yesterday issued her highly anticipated ruling concerning the constitutionality of the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” program.  Her conclusion:

I find that the City is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The City acted with deliberate indifference toward the NYPD’s practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks. Read the rest of this entry »


Warrantless Searches And The Watertown Manhunt

In the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy and the manhunt in Watertown, MA for the two suspects, many people have asked me whether it is constitutional for the police to set of up a perimeter in a town and search–without a warrant–every house in the perimeter for potentially armed and dangerous suspects. 

Of course, there is no Fourth Amendment problem with the search if the occupants of the house give their consent, assuming it was not obtained under duress.  But what if they do not consent?  Must the police obtain a warrant, or does the “exigent circumstances” exception to the warrant requirement apply? Read the rest of this entry »