A prison inmate had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his incoming and outgoing mail based on the prison directives for security purposes. United States v. Solomon, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26825 (W.D. Pa. April 11, 2007):
In Stroud v. United States, 251 U.S. 15, 21-22 (1919), the United States Supreme Court held that there was no violation of the Fourth Amendment when letters containing incriminating material written by a prisoner were intercepted by prison personnel and later introduced against him at trial. The Supreme Court noted that the letters came into the possession of prison officials under established practice, reasonably designed to promote institutional discipline. Id. at 21. Several circuit courts subsequent to Stroud have held that jail officials do not violate an inmate's Fourth Amendment rights by inspecting the inmate's mail. See, e.g., Stow v. Grimaldi, 993 F.2d 1002, 1004-05 (1st Cir. 1993) (holding that a New Hampshire State Prison practice of requiring nonprivileged outgoing mail to be submitted for inspection in unsealed envelopes does not violate prisoners' constitutional rights); Smith v. Delo, 995 F.2d 827, 830 (8th Cir. 1993) (prison officials are justified in screening outgoing nonlegal mail for escape plans, contraband, threats, or evidence of illegal activity); United States v. Whalen, 940 F.2d 1027, 1034-35 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 951 (1991) (holding that because prison officials are permitted to examine inmate mail to ensure that the mail does not interfere with the orderly running of the prison, contain threats, or facilitate criminal activity, there is no expectation of privacy in mail that inmates are required to leave unsealed); United States v. Kelton, 791 F.2d 101, 103 (8th Cir. 1986) (prisoner's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when prison official inspected and copied prisoner's outgoing mail); Smith v. Shimp, 562 F.2d 423, 426-27 (7th Cir. 1977) (reasoning that when a pretrial detainee sends non-privileged mail, he knowingly exposes same to possible inspection by jail officials and consequently yields to reasonable search and seizure); United States v. Baumgarten, 517 F.2d 1020, 1028 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 878 (1975) (holding that, under circumstances where prisoner knew of official policy of reading prisoners' outgoing and unsealed mail, prisoner cannot say the state gained access to contents of a letter by unlawful search and seizure).
The record undeniably demonstrates that the Department of Corrections has a written policy which informs all prisoners that their mail, both incoming and outgoing, may be inspected; that Defendant Solomon had received a copy of the DOC Inmate Handbook, which reflected this policy; and that Detective Heberle had requested the monitoring of Defendant Solomon's mail as part of an investigation into the homicide of Frank Helisek. When a prisoner is made aware that his nonlegal mail may be subjected to official scrutiny, pursuant to institutional policies, the inmate's constitutional rights are not violated by the subsequent examination of such mail because he or she has no reasonable expectation of privacy in it.
The plaintiff failed to state a claim against a city's SWAT teams dynamic entry policy even though it was used on two $20 buys. Estate of Brutsche v. City of Federal Way, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26855 (W.D. Wash. April 11, 2007):
The Court need not resolve this dispute. The Court's task on summary judgment is to determine whether there is any evidence that the SWAT team's Dynamic Warrant Service policy caused the alleged unreasonable use of force against Jim Brutsche, not to determine whether the SWAT team's deployment was reasonable. Plaintiffs have failed to provide any evidence that Jim Brutsche was injured by any reason specific to the SWAT team's policies and procedures. Because the Dynamic Service Warrant policy, which was used to decide to deploy the SWAT team in this case, cannot be considered the cause of, or the moving force behind, Jim Brutsche's injuries, the Court GRANTS IN PART the Cities' and the Port's motion for summary judgment, and DISMISSES with prejudice the Sixth Cause of Action to the extent that it is based on the VSRT's Dynamic Warrant Service policy.
An anonymous tip that the defendant had a gun and was planning on using it on someone was sufficient for a frisk when defendant was found where it was said he would be plus his furtive movement. Because the furtive movement occurred in a car, the frisk could extend to the car under Long. United States v. Graham, 483 F.3d 431 (6th Cir. 2007).
Reliance on an arrest warrant justified the arrest. The fact the officer had to use binoculars to better see the defendant did not mean that he lacked probable cause. It was reasonable for the defendant to be ordered out of the car. United States v. Helton, 232 Fed. Appx. 747 (10th Cir. 2007)* (unpublished).
While the question was close, the court finds reasonable suspicion based on the defendant's presence in a high crime area coupled with likely hand-to-hand transactions. United States v. Crawford, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26642 (E.D. Ark. April 10, 2007):
The circumstances in the instant case are more indicative of specific criminal activity than the circumstances in Cornelius. Like the defendant in Cornelius, Crawford was observed in a high-crime area and was recognized as an individual with a criminal history. While Crawford's conduct in exchanging something with another person could have been an innocent act, such conduct is also consistent with drug transactions. Moreover, the exchange took place at night, not during daylight hours. The Court recognizes that the defendant in Cornelius walked in another direction upon seeing the patrol car, and Crawford engaged in no such evasive action. The Eighth Circuit did not discuss this aspect of the defendant's behavior in its analysis, however, focusing instead on the fact that the defendant put his hand in his pocket. See id. (citing United States v. Davis, 202 F.3d 1060, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000), and noting that the suspect in Davis "nervously plac[ed] hand in jacket pocket"). Making an exchange in a parking lot at night is at least as suspicious as placing one's hand in one's pocket while walking down the street in broad daylight.
No Pingbacks for this post yet...
Fourth Amendment cases,
citations, and links
Latest Slip Opinions:
U.S. Supreme Court (Home)
Federal Appellate Courts Opinions
FDsys: Many district courts
FDsys: Many federal courts
Military Courts: C.A.A.F., Army, AF, N-M, CG
State courts (and some USDC opinions)
Advanced Google Scholar
Google search tips
LII State Appellate Courts
LexisONE free caselaw
Findlaw Free Opinions
To search Search and Seizure on Lexis.com $
Most recent SCOTUS
2009 to date:
Riley v. California, granted Jan.17, argued Apr. 29 (ScotusBlog)
United States v. Wurie, granted Jan.17, argued Apr. 29 (ScotusBlog)
Plumhoff v. Rickard, granted Nov. 15, argued Mar. 4 (ScotusBlog)
Stanton v. Sims, 134 S.Ct. 3, 187 L. Ed. 2d 341 (Nov. 4, 2013) (per curiam)
Navarette v. California, granted Oct.1, argued Jan. 21 (ScotusBlog)
Fernandez v. California, 134 S.Ct. 1126, 188 L. Ed. 2d 25 (Feb. 25) (ScotusBlog)
Maryland v. King, 133 S.Ct. 1958, 186 L.Ed.2d 1 (2013) (ScotusBlog)
Missouri v. McNeeley, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 185 L.Ed.2d 696 (2013) (ScotusBlog)
Bailey v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 1031, 185 L.Ed.2d 19 (2013) (ScotusBlog)
Florida v. Harris, 133 S.Ct. 1050, 185 L.Ed.2d 61 (2013) (ScotusBlog)
Florida v. Jardines, 133 S.Ct. 1409, 185 L.Ed.2d 495 (2013) (ScotusBlog)
Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, 133 S.Ct. 1138, 185 L.Ed.2d 264 (2013) (ScotusBlog)
Ryburn v. Huff, 132 S.Ct. 987, 181 L.Ed.2d 966 (2012) (other blog)
Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 132 S.Ct. 1510, 182 L.Ed.2d 566 (2012) (ScotusBlog)
United States v. Jones, 132 S.Ct. 945, 181 L.Ed.2d 911 (2012) (ScotusBlog)
Messerschmidt v. Millender, 132 S.Ct. 1235, 182 L.Ed.2d 47 (2012) (ScotusBlog)
Kentucky v. King, 131 S.Ct. 1849, 179 L.Ed.2d 865 (2011) (ScotusBlog)
Camreta v. Greene, 131 S.Ct. 2020, 179 L.Ed.2d 1118 (2011) (ScotusBlog)
Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 131 S.Ct. 2074, 179 L.Ed.2d 1149 (2011) (ScotusBlog)
Davis v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2419, 180 L.Ed.2d 285 (2011) (ScotusBlog)
Michigan v. Fisher, 558 U.S. 45, 130 S.Ct. 546, 175 L.Ed.2d 410 (2009) (per curiam) (ScotusBlog)
City of Ontario v. Quon, 560 U.S. 746, 130 S.Ct. 2619, 177 L.Ed.2d 216 (2010) (ScotusBlog)
Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135, 129 S.Ct. 695, 172 L.Ed.2d 496 (2009) (ScotusBlog)
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 129 S.Ct. 808, 172 L.Ed.2d 565 (2009) (ScotusBlog)
Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S. 323, 129 S.Ct. 781, 172 L.Ed.2d 694 (2009) (ScotusBlog)
Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 129 S.Ct. 1710, 173 L.Ed.2d 485 (2009) (ScotusBlog)
Safford Unified School District #1 v. Redding, 557 U.S. 364, 129 S.Ct. 2633, 174 L.Ed.2d 354 (2009) (ScotusBlog)
S. Ct. Docket
Solicitor General's site
Briefs online (but no amicus briefs)
Curiae (Yale Law)
Oyez Project (NWU)
"On the Docket"–Medill
S.Ct. Monitor: Law.com
S.Ct. Com't'ry: Law.com
General (many free):
Google Scholar | Google
LexisOne Legal Website Directory
Lexis.com (criminal law/ 4th Amd) $
Findlaw.com (4th Amd)
FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (2008) (pdf)
DEA Agents Manual (2002) (download)
DOJ Computer Search Manual (2009) (pdf)
Congressional Research Service:
Electronic Communications Privacy Act (2012)
Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (2012)
Outline of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping (2012)
Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping (2012)
Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Discussion of Proposed Revisions (2012)
ACLU on privacy
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Criminal Appeal (post-conviction) (9th Cir.)
Section 1983 Blog
"If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn't, and they don't."
"Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government."
—Shemaya, in the Thalmud
"A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays
down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its
application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect
results, especially if one's attention is confined to the particular case at
bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping
government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having
and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that
the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and
safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced."
—Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev'd Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).
"The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing
can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws,
or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence."
—Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.
—Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).
"There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that
bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the
police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater
than it is today."
— Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).
"The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their
—Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)
"It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have
frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And
so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his
case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth
—United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)
"The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated
here, has not–to put it mildly–run smooth."
—Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).
"A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the
bottom of a turntable."
—Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)
"For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly
exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth
Amendment protection. ... But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in
an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected."
—Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)
“Experience should teach us to be most on guard to
protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born
to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded
rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men
of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
—United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)
“Liberty—the freedom from unwarranted
intrusion by government—is as easily lost through insistent nibbles by
government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose
it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark.”
—United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)
"You can't always get what you want /
But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need."
—Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
"In Germany, they first came for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for
the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came
for me–and by that time there was nobody left to speak up."
—Martin Niemöller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]
“You know, most men would get discouraged by
now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men!”
—Pepé Le Pew
"There is never enough time, unless you are serving it."
"The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime."
—Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 13-14 (1948)