Archive for October, 2010

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Moore v. City of East Cleveland, Ohio 431 U.S. 494, U.S. Supreme Court. May 31, 1977.

Facts: Mrs. Inez Moore lives with her son and two grandsons in East Cleveland. The two children are first cousins. One of the grandsons, John Moore moved in after the death of his mother. Due to East Cleveland’s housing ordinance that only recognizes only a few categories of related individuals, her grandson was declared an illegal occupant of the house. She was ordered to have John removed from the dwelling. She did not comply and she received a criminal charge from the city.

Procedural History: Mrs. Moore moved to dismiss on grounds the ordinance was constitutionally invalid on its face. Motion was over-ruled. Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed after giving full consideration. Ohio Supreme Court denied review. Mrs. Moore appealed to the U.S Supreme Court. U.S. Supreme Court granted cert.

Issue: Whether East Cleveland’s narrow housing ordinance violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Holding: Yes

Reasoning: The holding in Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas only affected unrelated individuals not family members related by blood, adoption, or marriage and does not apply to this case. Since this ordinance intruded on choices concerning family living arrangements, the City had to have compelling governmental interests for the regulation. Their stated objectives of avoiding financial burden for public schools, minimizing traffic, and preventing overcrowding were not significant reasons to burden liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Terry v. Ohio No. 67, Supreme Court of the United States. June 10, 1968.

Facts: Detective McFadden was patrolling his downtown beat when he noticed three men acting suspiciously outside a store. Mcfadden, under the suspicion it could be a robbery, approached the three men and conducted a stop and frisk. During the frisk, Mcfadden felt a gun underneath the clothing of Terry and Chilton. Mcfadden seized the weapons and Terry was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon. During a hearing at trial court, Terry motioned to suppress the guns from the case. Trial court denied the motion because the court believed McFadden needed to perform the frisk in order to be safe from harm.

Procedural History: Appealed to the Court of Appeals for the eighth judicial district; ruling was upheld. Appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio. Appeal was dismissed. Appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. U.S. Supreme Court granted cert.

Issue: Whether a stop and frisk procedure used by a police officer on the street violates someone’s constitutionally protected rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

Holding: No

Reasoning: Under the Fourth Amendment there is a narrow provision that allows an officer to frisk a person if he can reasonably infer that someone may be armed and dangerous. Since the officer did not go underneath the clothing of the three individuals, it can not be seen as a exploratory search. He was merely padding the outside to see if there were any weapons as a protective search. That kind of search is lawful under the Fourth Amendment.

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

United States v. Ralph Arvizu No. 00-1519, U.S. Supreme Court. January 15, 2002.

Facts: After a sensor went off on a road known for drug smuggling, a federal border patrol agent went to the road and discovered Arvizu driving with a woman in the passenger seat and three kids in the back. While behind Arvizu, the border patrol agent noticed ten suspicious things about Arvizu’s driving. The border agent pulled Arvizu over and searched the car after he got permission from Arvizu. The border agent found 128.85 lbs of marijuana. Arvizu was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Arvizu motioned to suppress the evidence because the border agent did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle as required by the Fourth Amendment. The District Court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the District Court’s decision because it concluded that 7 out of the 10 factors that caused the border agent to pull over Arvizu had little to no weight in regards to reasonable suspicion.

Procedural History: District Court denied motion to suppress evidence. Arvizu appealed to The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Decision was overturned. United States petitioned the Supreme Court. Supreme Court granted cert.

Issue: Whether reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop can be found when the majority of the observable factors documented to raise the suspicion are found to carry little or no weight in reasonable-suspicion calculus.

Holding: Yes

Reasoning: Whenever the Court measures reasonable-suspicion, it measures the totality of circumstances involved in the case in order to judge whether the arresting officer had a particularized and objective basis for suspecting a legal wrong doing. The Court of Appeals erred because it looked at each factor as a singular event and concluded that only three of the factors were relevant suspicions. Since all the factors must be viewed together, the collective suspicious qualities of each factor would provide reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop.

legal brief holmes

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Holmes v. South Carolina No.04-1327, Supreme Court of the United States. May 1, 2006.

Facts: Holmes was convicted of murder, first degree criminal sexual assault, first degree burglary and robbery, and was sentenced to death by a South Carolina jury. During his trial he motioned to have an expert witness give testimony refuting the credibility of the forensic evidence. Also, Holmes wanted to introduce evidence that another man was at the scene of the crime the morning of when it was committed and had said that he had committed the crime and that Holmes did not. The trial court excluded the third-party evidence stating it was inadmissible because it could not overcome the forensic evidence against him and it only merely casts a bare suspicion of another’s guilt.

Procedural History: Trial court convicted Holmes. Holmes appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court and the Court gave cert. South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s decision. Holmes appealed the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. Supreme Court gave cert.

Issue: Whether someone’s constitutionally protected right to a fair trial is violated by an evidence rule that prohibits him from presenting evidence of a third party’s guilt if the prosecution has produced forensic evidence that if held true, heavily supports a guilty verdict.

Holding: Yes

Reasoning: The Constitution guarantees criminal defendants a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense. There are well established evidence rules that exclude evidence if its probative value is outweighed by other concerns like unfair prejudice, it confuses the issues, or the potential to mislead the jury. This evidence however does not have a practical purpose because it only serves to benefit the prosecution and prevent any questions of the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence.

legal brief dickerson

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Charles T. Dickerson v. United States U.S. Supreme Court No. 99-5525. June 26, 2000.

Facts: Dickerson was indicted for bank robbery, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, and using a firearm in the course of committing a crime of violence according to Title 18 of the United States Code. Dickerson moved to suppress a statement he gave to the FBI on the grounds he did not receive “Miranda warnings” before the interrogation. District Court approved the motion. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the decision in Miranda was not a constitutional holding, and Congress could by statute have the final say on the question of admissibility.

Procedural History: Government took an interlocutory appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Court of appeals reversed the District Court’s decision. Dickerson appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted cert.

Issue: Whether Congress has the constitutional authority to supersede the Supreme Court’s holdings in Miranda.

Holding: No

Reasoning: Congress can only create rules that supersede judicially created rules of evidence and procedure that are not required by the Constitution. The protections announced in Miranda are constitutionally required because the rules the Miranda put in place were made to protect citizens from circumstances that did not meet constitutional standards for protection. Since the nature of police interrogation provides risk of violating someone’s right against self-incrimination, the Court decided that the traditional totality-of-the-circumstances test was lacking. Therefore, the Court thought it a necessity to guard citizens’ constitutional rights by creating the Miranda rules.

Legal Brief Dickerson

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Charles T. Dickerson v. United States U.S. Supreme Court No. 99-5525. June 26, 2000.

Facts: Dickerson was indicted for bank robbery, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, and using a firearm in the course of committing a crime of violence according to Title 18 of the United States Code. Dickerson moved to suppress a statement he gave to the FBI on the grounds he did not receive “Miranda warnings” before the interrogation. District Court approved the motion. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the decision in Miranda was not a constitutional holding, and Congress could by statute have the final say on the question of admissibility.

Procedural History: Government took an interlocutory appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Court of appeals reversed the District Court’s decision. Dickerson appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted cert.

Issue: Whether Congress has the constitutional authority to supersede the Supreme Court’s holdings in Miranda.

Holding: No

Reasoning: Congress can only create rules that supersede judicially created rules of evidence and procedure that are not required by the Constitution. The protections announced in Miranda are constitutionally required because the rules the Miranda put in place were made to protect citizens from circumstances that did not meet constitutional standards for protection. Since the nature of police interrogation provides risk of violating someone’s right against self-incrimination, the Court decided that the traditional totality-of-the-circumstances test was lacking. Therefore, the Court thought it a necessity to guard citizens’ constitutional rights by creating the Miranda rules.

legal brief Draper

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Draper v. United States 358 U.S. Supreme Court, January 26, 1959.

Facts: Federal narcotics agent Marsh had 29 years of experience. Marsh had been receiving information from a “special employee” of the Bureau of Narcotics at Denver about narcotic related crimes. The special employee had repeatedly proved himself reliable and his information accurate. The employee told Marsh that James Draper was dealing heroin to several addicts and he went to Chicago to pick up more heroin that he was planning to bring back and sell. The employee gave a accurate description to Marsh and he apprehended Draper. Draper argued that the information given by Hereford to Marsh was hearsay thus not legally competent information and that Marsh’s information obtained from Herford was insufficient to show probable cause.

Procedural History: Defendant filed a motion to suppress in the trial court. Trial court denied the motion to suppress and he was convicted. He appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and the 10th Circuit upheld his conviction. He requested review by the Supreme Court and cert was granted.

Issue: Whether knowledge of the related facts and circumstances gave Marsh probable cause within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and reasonable grounds to believe that petitioner had committed or was committing a violation of the narcotic laws.

Holding: Yes

Reasoning: Since Hereford was a employee of the Bureau of Narcotics at Denver and his information was repeatedly found to be credible it would have been contrary of the obligations of Marsh if he did not use the information use the information to pursue Draper. Since the information provided by Hereford was accurately applicable to Draper at the time of the crime, it was on reasonable grounds that Marsh should have apprehended Draper. Therefore, the arrest was lawful and the search and seizure was lawful as well. Also, Draper’s claim that the search and seizure was caused by hearsay and should as a result suppress the evidence is invalid because hearsay only applies to proving guilt not proving probable cause.