A woman lawyer was the target of a home invasion and aggravated attempted rape in 1994 in Nashville. She struggled with the assailant who beat her head, and she bit off a piece of skin on his finger, spitting it under the bed. He left. In 2000, a DNA profile was run on the piece of the finger, and the DHA description was included in a John Doe warrant as a specific identifier. In 2006, the grand jury indicted John Doe. In 2008, a likely fingerprint match was made off the piece of the finger with defendant who had applied for a job at the DOC. Once police had a likely candidate for a suspect, a match on a palm print was made and the police then sought a DNA sample, and that matched the defendant. He was charged, tried, and convicted. A John Doe warrant with a DNA description was sufficiently particular under the Fourth Amendment, and the statute of limitations was properly tolled. State v. Burdick, 395 S.W.3d 120 (Tenn. 2012), aff’g State v. Burdick, 2011 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 886 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 2, 2011):
Several jurisdictions have addressed the issue since [Wisconsin] in Dabney [State v. Dabney, 2003 WI App 108, 264 Wis. 2d 843, 663 N.W.2d 366 (2003)], and most have concluded that inclusion or reference to a unique DNA profile in a "John Doe" arrest warrant or indictment sufficiently describes a person to satisfy statutory requirements. In State v. Danley, the Ohio Court of Common Pleas cited Dabney with approval and held that an affidavit of complaint and arrest warrant against "John Doe," which identified the suspect by gender and a DNA profile, was sufficient to commence the criminal action, thereby tolling the statute of limitations. 2006 Ohio 3585, 853 N.E.2d 1224, 1226-28 (Ohio Ct. Com. Pl. 2006). More recently, in People v. Robinson, the California Supreme Court ruled that an arrest warrant that described the suspect only as "John Doe, unknown male" with a unique 13-loci DNA profile adequately identified the defendant under both the Fourth Amendment and California's statutory scheme, thus timely commencing the prosecution. 47 Cal. 4th 1104, 104 Cal. Rptr. 3d 727, 224 P.3d 55, 75-76 (Cal. 2010). Finally, in Dixon, the Massachusetts Supreme Court observed that a DNA profile is more than a description; "it is, metaphorically, an indelible 'bar code' that labels an individual's identity with nearly irrefutable precision." 938 N.E.2d at 885 (citing NRC at 2, 7, 9). Consequently, that court held that a "John Doe" indictment incorporating the suspect's unique DNA profile and additional physical description "unassailably fulfil[led] the constitutional requirement that an indictment provide 'words of description which have particular reference to the person whom the Commonwealth seeks to convict,'" sufficiently identified the defendant, and tolled the statute of limitations. Id. at 885-86.
. . .
We are persuaded that a DNA profile exclusively identifies an accused with nearly irrefutable precision and, as a general rule, satisfies the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 7 of the Tennessee Constitution. In our view, the "John Doe" designation in the warrant at issue, coupled with the detailed DNA profile of the assailant, identified the Defendant with "reasonable certainty," as is required by both constitution and statute. See U.S. Const. amend. IV; Tenn. Const. art. I, § 7; Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-6-208; Tenn. R. Crim. P. 4(c)(1)(B). As a result, the prosecution was properly and timely commenced within the eight-year statute of limitations by the filing of the "John Doe" arrest warrant on February 2, 2000.
. . .
A criminal prosecution is commenced if, within the statute of limitations for a particular offense, a warrant is issued identifying the defendant by gender and his or her unique DNA profile. Furthermore, a superseding indictment in the defendant's proper name provides the requisite notice of the charge. The judgment of conviction is, therefore, affirmed.
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
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 cases:
Plumhoff v. Rickard, granted Nov. 15, argued Mar. 4 (ScotusBlog)
Stanton v. Sims, 2013 U.S. LEXIS 7773 (Nov. 4, 2013) (per curiam)
Navarette v. California, granted Oct.1, argued Jan. 21 (ScotusBlog)
Fernandez v. California, granted May 20, argued Nov. 13 (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)