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Mapp v. Ohio Case Brief

Summary of Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S. 643 (1961)

STATEMENT OF THE CASE: The petitioner claims that the obscene materials for which she was ultimately convicted were discovered in an illegal search of the house. There is doubt whether or not there ever was a search warrant, as it was never produced at trial.

PROCEDURE BELOW: D was convicted, and the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed. This is an appeal from a conviction for possession of obscene materials. The U. S. Supreme Court granted certiorari.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS: Three police officers arrived at Mapp’s (D) house pursuant to information that a person (who was wanted for questioning in a bombing) was hiding out. The officers knocked at the door, but D was advised by her attorney not to admit them without a search warrant. Three hours later, more officers showed up and forcibly entered the house. Upon request, an officer showed D an alleged search warrant. D grabbed the warrant and placed it in her bosom. It was recovered by an officer and D was restrained. Eventually, obscene materials for which she was ultimately convicted were discovered in the search of the house. There is doubt whether or not there ever was a search warrant, as it was never produced at trial.

LEGAL ISSUE: Is evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution admissible in a state court?

HOLDING: All evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is inadmissible in a state court.

REASONING: (Clark, J.) No. All evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is inadmissible in a state court. Since Wolf, many states have wholly or partially adopted the exclusionary rule, which excludes evidence that is gained by illegal or incorrect means. Other remedies have failed to secure compliance with the constitutional provisions. The 4th Amendment’s right of privacy has been declared enforceable against the States through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. The right to privacy is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty and basic to a free society. Moreover, it is insensible to allow unlawfully seized evidence, because it encourages disobedience. Finally, one can still investigate and prosecute criminals, while working under a system of excluding illegally obtained evidence as proven by the federal courts. Reversed, for D.

DISSENT: (Harlan, J.) Half of the states don’t use the exclusionary rule and are constitutionally free to choose whether or not to follow it. States should be free to follow their own methods for dealing with their criminal problems. The 14th Amendment does not empower this court to mold state remedies for arbitrary intrusion by the police. Voluntary state action should not be replaced with federal compulsion.

CRITICAL SUMMARY: Wolf v. Colorado is overruled. I believe the exclusionary rule is necessary in order to make the Fourth Amendment right a reality.



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