Law Enforcement News

A special supplement A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 30, 2000

[LEN Home] - [Masthead] - [Past Issues] SUBSCRIBE

In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Policing becomes a habit; bumps in the road; say “Ahh”; going out in style; good news for Newport News; dead or alive; missing the mark.
The long & winding road: A special supplement to this issue celebrates LEN’s 25th anniversary with a look back at policing over the last quarter of the 20th century.
Warm bodies: How two cities are bucking the troubling recruitment trend.
It’s murder out there: New Orleans tries a two-pronged approach to get a handle on homicides.
Choosing their targets: How Minneapolis police are driving down crime.
Mind fields: Charleston police learn to spot Alzheimer’s disease sufferers & come to their aid.

 
The Supremes’ Greatest Hits:
Significant Supreme Court decisions, 1975-2000

      Arrested developments

Payton v. New York (1980). Police must have a warrant or the consent of the resident before entering a home to arrest the occupant

City of Los Angeles v. Lyons (1983). A citizen does not have standing to seek a preliminary federal injunction barring the use of the chokeholds except where the immediate use of deadly force is threatened.

United States v. Sharpe (1985). Police may detain drivers believed to be carrying narcotics for up to 20 minutes, a loosening of the time frame given in Terry v. Ohio (1968).

Tennesee v. Garner (1985). Police may not use deadly force to stop a fleeing felon unless there is reason to believe that individual threatens the lives of officers or others.

County of Riverside v. McLaughlin (1991). A person arrested without a warrant may be held for up to 48 hours before a probable-cause hearing.

Sacramento v. Lewis (1998). Serious injury or death stemming from negligence during a police chase does not violate Fourth or 14th Amendment protections.

City of Chicago v. Morales (1999). A Chicago anti-gang ordinance is struck down as a violation of personal liberty protections guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.

      Search me

United States v. Watson (1976). The Court upholds the warrantless search of a suspect in a public place, based on probable cause.

Franks v. Delaware (1978). The use of false allegations to establish probable cause before a judge nullifies a search warrant.

Arkansas v. Sanders (1979). A warrant is needed in order to search a closed container that is simply found in a vehicle.

United States v. Ross (1982). As long as there is probable cause, police may search sealed containers found in automobiles without a warrant.

Illinois v. Gates (1983). The “totality of circumstances” is deemed the proper standard for determining probable cause for issuance of a search warrant based on an informant’s tip.

United States v. Leon (1984). The Court carves out the “good faith” exception to the exclusionary rule, upholding the use of evidence at trial obtained with a search warrant later found to be invalid.

Nix v. Williams (1984). The “inevitable discovery” exception to the exclusionary rule permits evidence to be used against a defendant if prosecutors can show it would have ultimately been discovered by lawful means.

Washington v. Chrisman (1986). Under the “plain view” exception to the Fourth Amendment, incriminating evidence can be seized by law enforcement officers from any place they have a right to be.

California v. Ciraolo (1986). Law enforcement officers did not violate Fourth Amendment protections by flying a plane at an altitude of 1,000 feet to observe whether marijuana was being grown by residents.

California v. Greenwood (1988). Citizens have no expectation of Fourth Amendment protection when it comes to garbage left at the curb.

California v. Acevedo (1989). The Court eliminates the need for a warrant to search sealed containers found inside automobiles.

Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Association (1989). Mandatory drug testing of certain groups outside the criminal justice system, even without a warrant, is upheld.

United States v. Sokolow (1989). The search of a suspect at an airport whom federal agents believed might have been smuggling drugs based on certain behaviors was found valid due to the totality of circumstances.

National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab (1989). Drug testing of Customs Service employees charged with suppressing the illegal drug trade does not violate Fourth Amendment protections.

Minnesota v. Olson (1990). Overnight house guests have a legitimate expectation of privacy and are entitled to Fourth Amendment protections.

Michigan v. Sitz (1990). Random searches at sobriety checkpoints are upheld as a “slight” intrusion on motorists.

Florida v. Bostick (1990). Police may conduct random drug searches of bus passengers and their luggage, absent any suspicion of wrongdoing.

California v. Acevedo (1991). Chipping away at 1979’s Arkansas v. Sanders decision (see above), the Court says officers may open bags found inside vehicles if they have probable cause to search the car itself.

California v. Hodari D. (1991). Drugs or other articles discarded by a fleeing suspect may be used as evidence at trial, regardless of whether the police giving chase had any reasonable basis for suspicion.

Minnesota v. Dickerson (1993). The seizure of rock cocaine detected in a person’s pocket during a patdown search is a Fourth Amendment violation where the determination that the lump was contraband was made only after further search.

Arizona v. Evans (1995). The good-faith exception is extended to court personnel, in a ruling that drug evidence need not be suppressed despite a computer error that led to an unconstitutional arrest.

Wilson v. Arkansas (1995). Police must “knock and announce” themselves before entering a home as part of the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness standard.

Whren v. United States (1996). Police may stop any motorist who has violated traffic laws, no matter how minor, even if there is an ulterior motive, such as conducting a search without probable cause.

Maryland v. Wilson (1997). Officers may order passengers of a lawfully stopped vehicle to step out.

Wyoming v. Houghton (1999). Police officers with probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of car may search a passenger’s personal belongings in the car that are capable of concealing contraband.

Florida v. J.L. (2000). The Court refuses to adopt an “automatic firearms exception” regarding the reliability of anonymous tips. In order to be justify police action, even when a firearm is reported, the tip must do more than just describe a suspect’s appearance and location.

Bond v. United States (2000). Police may visually inspect travelers’ luggage, but without reasonable suspicion may not squeeze or physically manipulate a bag to determine whether it contains drugs.

Illinois v. Wardlow (2000). The act of running away from police, coupled with other suspicious behavior, can be grounds for a stop-and-frisk search.

Florida v. Wilson (2000). During a traffic stop, police may not order passengers to remain in the vehicle if there is no reason to suspect that they pose a threat.

      Sentence fragments

Gregg v. Georgia (1976). The Court lifts the ban on capital punishment, finding that procedures such as a separate penalty-phase trial can circumvent the prejudice and arbitrariness found in earlier proceedings.

Woodson v. North Carolina (1976). Decided on the same day as Gregg, the Court finds mandatory death-penalty laws unconstitutional.

Coker v. Georgia (1977). The Court finds the death penalty unconstitutionally disproportionate to the crime of rape.

Bell v. Wolfish (1979). The jail conditions to which pretrial detainees are subjected do not violate guarantees of liberty, due process or privacy.

Harmelin v. Michigan (1991). A life sentence without the possibility of parole for a first-time, nonviolent drug offender does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

United States v. James Daniel Good Real Property (1993). The Court strikes down a federal forfeiture statute under which authorities seized the house and land of a convicted drug offender 4½ years after the conviction, and without notice or hearing.

Austin v. United States (1993). The government’s power to seize assets is limited under Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Bennis v. Michigan (1996). A woman who is forced to forfeit the car she co-owns with her husband, after he was arrested in it having sex with a prostitute, is told that lack of knowledge of a co-owner’s wrongdoing is an insufficient defense.

Kansas v. Hendricks (1997). Civil commitment for convicted child molesters who have served their sentences under the state’s Sexually Violent Predators Act is upheld.

      Affirmative actions

University of California Regents v. Bakke (1978). State universities may not set aside a fixed quota of seats for minority group members at the expense of white applicants. Also, admissions officers do not violate equal protection guarantees when they consider race a factor in the admission or rejection of applicants.

Sugarman v. Dougall (1978). A New York statute is upheld that requires all state police to be United States citizens.

Firefighters Local Union No. 1784 v. Stotts (1984). An injunction against “last hired, first fired” layoffs, aimed at preserving the jobs of black firefighters hired under a consent decree, is deemed improper.

United States v. Paradise (1987). An affirmative action plan that required a one-black-for-one-white promotion quota for Alabama state troopers is upheld by the Court, which found it justified in seeking to eradicate a history of discrimination.

Rankin v. McPherson (1987). The right of a Texas constable to speak freely without fear of losing his job is upheld. The constable commented that he hoped assassins would “get” President Ronald Reagan.

John H. Alden et al. v. State of Maine (1999). State employees may not sue in state court to compel compliance with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

      Look who’s talking

Rhode Island v. Innis (1980). An incriminating statement made by a suspect after overhearing a conversation between two officers is not a violation of Miranda rights.

New York v. Quarles (1984). A “public safety” exception to Miranda is recognized, allowing police to ask questions appropriate to public safety before giving the warnings.

Oregon v. Elstad (1985). An admission of guilt given voluntarily in a noncoercive atmosphere before a Miranda warning will not taint any subsequent confession.

Arizona v. Fulminante (1991). The Court rules that a compelled confession does not automatically require the reversal of a conviction.

McNeil v. Wisconsin (1991). A suspect being questioned about one criminal case while represented by a lawyer may be questioned about other cases without the presence of legal representation so long as a Miranda warning has been given.

Davis v. United States (1993). The Court reverses Edwards v. Arizona (1981), holding that police must immediately stop questioning only if a suspect makes an unambiguous, unequivocal request for counsel.

Dickerson v. United States (2000). The Court upholds the landmark Miranda decision, rejecting an attempt by Congress to circumvent the ruling through legislation and substitute a “voluntariness” standard.

      Say “Cheese”

Chandler et al. v. Florida (1981). So long as television and other “evolving technologies” do not infringe on the constitutional rights of the accused, a state law permitting TV, radio and still photographic coverage of a criminal trial over the defendant’s objections is permitted.

Simon & Schuster Inc. v. Members of the N.Y. State Crime Victims Board (1991). New York’s “Son-of-Sam Law,” which prohibited criminals from profiting from their crimes through books and movies about their deeds, is overturned as a violation of the First Amendment.

Wilson v. Layne (1999). The Court cracks down on news media “ride-alongs” during arrests.

      Bang, bang

U.S. v. Lopez (1995). The 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act is struck down as an unjustifiable federal intrusion into local affairs.

Printz v. United States (1997). A key provision of the Brady Law is struck down, when the Court rules that the federal government cannot compel local law enforcement to perform background checks on applicants for handgun ownership.

      Institutional failings

Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services (1978). Government institutions may be held liable under 42 USCS 1983, which imposes civil liability on a “person” who deprives another of his federally protected rights.

Canton v. Harris (1989). Expanding Monell (see above), the Court rules that municipalities may be held liable for constitutional violations resulting from failure to properly train or supervise employees.