Compulsory taking of DNA from a pretrial detainee under 42 U.S.C. § 14135a violates the Fourth Amendment. It cannot be supported under special needs, totality of the circumstances, or a compelling governmental interest. United States v. Mitchell, 681 F. Supp. 2d 597 (W.D. Pa. 2009):
A DNA profile generates investigatory evidence that is primarily used by law enforcement officials for general law enforcement purposes. To allow such suspicionless searches, which are conducted in almost all instances with law enforcement involvement, to occur absent traditional warrant and probable cause requirements will intolerably diminish our protection from unreasonable intrusion afforded by the Search and Seizure Clause of the Fourth Amendment. The Court, therefore, finds that the "special needs" exception to the warrant and probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment is inapplicable here.
. . .
The Government also argues that the degree of intrusion affecting Mitchell's privacy interest is minimal. The Third Circuit, in Sczubelek, specifically found that "the intrusion of a blood test is minimal." United States v. Sczubelek, 402 F.3d at 184 (citing Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Ass'n, 489 U.S. at 625) 8. The taking of a buccal swab, then, certainly can not be any more intrusive. The Third Circuit, however, also stated that "this slight intrusion into an ordinary citizen's privacy is unconstitutional." Id. Though Mitchell may not be considered an "ordinary citizen" based upon his restricted liberty as a pretrial detainee, this Court has found that he maintains a high expectation of privacy in the comprehensive, inherently private information contained in his DNA sample. Therefore, even though the taking of a sample may not be unreasonably intrusive, the search of the sample is quite intrusive, severely affecting Mitchell's expectation of privacy in his most intimate matters.
. . .
In assessing the totality of the circumstances and weighing the legitimate governmental interests against Mitchell's expectation of privacy in the genetic information contained in his DNA sample, the Court finds that a universal requirement that a charged defendant submit a DNA sample for analysis and inclusion in a law enforcement databank for criminal law enforcement and /or identification purposes is unreasonable under, and therefore in violation of, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
. . .
Based upon the foregoing, this Court finds that 42 U.S.C. § 14135a, and its accompanying regulations, requiring a charged defendant to submit a DNA sample for analysis and inclusion in CODIS without independent suspicion or a warrant unreasonably intrudes on such defendant's expectation of privacy and is invalid under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. An appropriate order follows.
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—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
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—Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
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—Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).
"There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that
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— 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
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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)
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—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)
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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)
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"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)