Mapp vs. Ohio Cort Case
Mapp V Ohio “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,” Mapp V. Ohio (1961) dealt with that very sentence of the constitution. Were the officers at fault or Mapp? This complex question has a complex answer one that puzzled the Supreme Court and led to a change in criminal procedure.
The verdict was a strict interpretation of the constitution. The fourth amendment was relevant because the fourteenth amendment grunted due process.
It was a very good decision, it protected the black minority who at the time were being routinely harassed and convicted for no reasons. This decision certainly did not stop that but it made it harder for the police to seize evidence unlawfully and put a stop to bad practice of law at the state level. The land mark Supreme Court ruling on Mapp v Ohio changed the way people thought of the fourth amendment and how it could be applied to protect the individual form unlawful search and seizure.
Previously the law surrounding the fourth amendment’s protection from unjust searches was extremely enigmatic. Its application varied form case to case until the Weeks rule was enacted in 1914. The Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained via an illegal search and seizure was not admissible in federal court. However the Supreme Court did not make the states adopt the Weeks rule. The legal loop hole it created made it legal for states to present and prosecute with evidence detained in an unconstitutional tactic.
In Mapp v Ohio a case that brought all the questions into the spotlight. On May 23, 1957, three Cleveland police officers arrived at appellant’s residence in that city perusing information that “a person [was] hiding out in the home, who was wanted for questioning in connection with a recent bombing, and that there was a large amount of policy paraphernalia being hidden in the home. ” Ms. Mapp was living with her daughter when the police officers arrived and demanded entrance to her home.
After consulting her attorney she did not allow them in without a warrant. The officer’s left leaving one man to watch the house. Three hours later the police came back with more officers. After breaking down the door they brandished a piece of paper they claimed to be a warrant. Mapp snatched the piece of paper and stuffed it down her shirt. After a short altercation the “warrant” was retrieved. Immediately following the confrontation the officers’ embarked on a top to bottom search of the Mapp residence.
They found no evidence of the gambling equipment or the suspect in the recent bombing. Frustrated with the fruitless search the police focused on a suitcase they found tucked under a bed. Inside the suitcase were a small collection of pornographic pictures and magazines. In Cleveland it is illegal to possess obscene materials. She was tried and convicted of possession of obscene materials. The constitutional question is whether or not the rights of the fourth amendment are viable in state courts.
The fourth amendment gives the people the right to privacy and protects them from unlawful searches and seizures. When the Warren court ruled in favor of Mapp, Justice Clark cited two constitutional amendments that protected Ms. Mapp. “Since the Fourth Amendment’s right of privacy has been declared enforceable against the States through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth, it is enforceable against them by the same sanction of exclusion as is used against the Federal Government. He reasoned that because the states had to abide by the fourth amendment’s right to privacy then the exclusionary rule should also be applied to state courts. Clark also addressed the concern of letting a criminal go when he or she is legally not guilty because of the excusatory rule, “it is the law that sets him free” and that “nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws. ” The law must be observed in all instances where it is viable. In the case of Mapp v Ohio the Warren court overturned her conviction by a vote of 6-3.
Justice Clark wrote the decision and argued because the fourteenth amendment guaranteed protection in state court then the fourth amendment excusatory rule was clearly enforceable in state court. Clark cited the fat that 26 states had already adopted the excusatory rule. The Supreme Court could no longer trust the state courts to manage themselves. With discrimination and ill practice extensively practiced throughout the states the population was becoming tired of it. The bulk of society was ready for this ruling years before it occurred.
Justice Clark had a history of dealing with fourth amendment cases ruling in favor of the defendant in United States v. Jeffers. The counter argument to the verdict was described by commentators as “the most significant limitation ever imposed on state criminal procedure by the Supreme Court in a single judgment. ” Clamming that “justice would be obstructed and limited by procedure” The court’s decision to find Mapp innocent was a liberal ruling. When the ruling was made many police officers did not respect blacks. Mapp was a black women and that was a big part of the case.
In that time it was acceptable to search and seize Negros belongings without a warrant and it was done on a regular basis. It was liberal because it protected the minority taking power away from state governments and greatly limiting the ability for the police to gather evidence in unlawful ways. When the verdict came to fruition many of the states fighting this verdict were also heavily opposed to the Brown vs. Board of Education case. The connection being that these racist states were worried blacks would gain rights and they would no longer be able to seize their belongings unlawfully.
Once again this law took power away from these racist state governments and gave power to the blacks who were regularly- being harassed and having there belongings searched and seized. Illegal search and seizure has been an issue that plagued the court system for years. Flurries of cases were brought to the Supreme Court before and after Mapp vs. Ohio case. Many cases were decided in favor of illegal evidence being applicable in court. Such as Carroll v. United States 267 U. S. 132 (1925) a case that denied the suppression of evidence because it was illegally seized.
George Carroll and John Kiro were arrested for the transportation of alcohol in violation of the Volstead Act (national alcohol prohibition) and subsequently convicted. The Supreme Court upheld the decision by a vote of 6-2. Weeks v. United States 232 U. S. 383 (1914) created the excusatory rule and was the first trial where evidence was deemed to be not viable in court because of the way it was gathered. The excusatory rule has been dumbed down a lot from its original scope and applications, several cases have limited the fourth amendment in court.
United States v. Calandra, 414 U. S. 338 (1974) limited the rule by allowing evidence to be used to convict a man who was a loan shark. They had a warrant to search and seize gambling paraphilia, when an officer discovered and seized several documents relating to a loan shark operation. When he was being tried for this offense Calandra attempted to suppress the evidence because it was not specified in the warrant. The Supreme Court ruled that it was appropriate for use in the court.
Justice Powel mad the decision, Powell limited the scope of the exclusionary rule in holding that it did not limit the government’s ability to use illegally seized evidence in “all proceedings or against all persons”. Holding that the duties of a grand jury would be substantially hindered by allowing a witness to invoke the exclusionary rule while offering only a minimal limiting effect on police misconduct. Although no cases completely overturned the Mapp v. Ohio ruling several more cases did limit the power of the rule in favor of the greater good and not allowing criminals to walk because of a procedural issue.
The overall impact of Mapp v. Ohio is immeasurable. The American people won a victory for privacy and seriously limited police’s ability to gather evidence. This was a good interpretation of the constitution. The fourteenth amendment clearly states that everyone is entitled to the due process of law, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ” Thus making the fourth amendment applicable in state courts.