Results tagged “Fourth Amendment”

March 4, 2013

Lapp_SJ.jpgBy Associate Professor Kevin Lapp

On Feb. 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Maryland v. King, a case that Justice Alito called "the most important criminal procedure case this Court had had in decades." The case involves the constitutionality of warrantless, involuntarily DNA collection from individuals who have been arrested for a felony, but not yet charged or convicted. It is uncontested that DNA collection constitutes a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. This case asks whether compelling such searches in the absence of a warrant, and the absence of a criminal conviction, is reasonable.

Maryland, together with 27 other states and the federal government, has statutorily mandated law enforcement to collect a DNA sample from certain individuals upon arrest. The DNA extraction happens not because the state has any articulated suspicion whatsoever that the search will produce evidence of criminality. Were that so, the state could get a warrant to compel a DNA sample. Instead, the law requires arrestees to submit to DNA collection (typically by a buccal swab) based merely on the fact of the arrest. It is done so that law enforcement can analyze the DNA sample and compare it to the thousands of DNA profiles already in state and federal databases, in the hopes that the arrestee's DNA will match as-yet unidentified DNA evidence related to unsolved crimes.

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May 23, 2011

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By Professor Marcy Strauss

This is the first in the Summary Judgments summer series, "The Headline Club," in which Loyola Law School professors will discuss legal issues ripped from the front page.

The Supreme Court's 8-1 decision in Kentucky v. King has been described by some bloggers, pundits and scholars as being a serious blow to the Fourth Amendment and its protection of the privacy of the home, and by others as a narrow, fairly insignificant decision. The truth, as it often does, may lie somewhere in between predictions of doom and irrelevancy.

The issue in King was one that the lower courts had grappled with: does the "exigency exception" to the warrant requirement apply when the police "create their own exigency?" (and what does it mean to create the exigency?). In King, police officers pursued a suspected drug dealer into an apartment complex, briefly lost sight of him, but detected the very strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from behind one of the doors. At this point, the officers had several options. Instead of pursuing one option -- staking out the apartment and going for a warrant -- the officers banged on the door and announced their presence. Hearing "people moving and things being moved" led the officers to believe that drug-related evidence was about to be destroyed, and thus, the police made a warrantless entry into the home. As a result of that entry, they didn't find the man they were looking for originally (he had, in fact, gone in a different apartment), but did find marijuana and cocaine.

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