Summary of Articles in Criminal Justice
The readings illustrate the developments and challenges that have been experienced in implementing the right of citizens to peacefully demonstrate and air their grievances to the government for redress, particularly when it comes to racial segregation in enforcing the law, and similarly the right of people to be secure as individuals, in their houses, document wise or in the papers, and in terms of possessions, against unreasonable searches and seizures. Basically, the readings talk against the violation of human rights in these two aspects. The aforementioned features of the law specifically make reference to the Fourth Amendment Laws that were done in 1994, where they are discussed in detail.
Mason (2011) in his article ‘Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading With Fourth Amendement Guidance For Cops And Perps’, conducts an analysis of 99 Problems, a song done by an artist known as Jay-Z. In the article, Jay-Z is transporting drugs, and a traffic police office happens to stop him for allegedly over-speeding while driving. However, the police suspects that Jay-Z is transporting drugs and tells him to pull over, which he respects and complies. After pulling over, the police tells him that he is driving at a speed of 55 km/h instead of the required 50km/h. He (the police) goes further to request Jay-Z to open up his trunk for a search and similarly step out of the car for a frisk because he suspects that he is carrying a weapon. Jay-Z refuses to do the two, terming the search as unwarranted. In the lyrics of the song, Jay-Z mentions that the police is stopping him because ‘he is young and black’, and similarly the police suspects that he is carrying a weapon on him and asks that, “Are you carrying a weapon on you, I know a lot of you are (Mason, 2011, p. 568).” This statement indicates racial prejudice in enforcing the law, which is a violation of human rights. The article basically advises police officers to make arrests on traffic violations, if they have to, and if they suspect drug smuggling or carrying of illegal weapons, then they better do the searches in the legal way rather than risk being sued for violation of human rights and racial prejudice.
Report on arrest of John Woodal Terry, Richard D. Chilton and Carl Katz is a gun seizure report by officer McFadden (1963) done at the police department of Cleveland, Ohio and it outlines how he came to arrest these three men. Because of their behavior, he suspected that they must be up to something illegal. He approached them, introduced himself as a police officer, told them to keep their hands out of their pockets, went into their pockets and searched them. He managed to seize weapons from John Woodal Terry and Richard D. Chilton, who he refer to as colored men, while he does not recover any weapon from Carl Katz (whom he refers to as white). In the report, he makes a request that the guns are “turned over to Ballistics to be checked out”, and similarly makes a request that the three men “be checked out by the Robberry Squad”. In other words, Fadden suspected that the three men were contemplating a daylight robbery. In this case too, racial prejudice is illustrated, and this is so if consideration is given to how Martin distinguishes the men with their skin color. The big question is whether the searches and seizures are done legally.
The next article, Terry v. Ohio is a summary of the proceedings of an appeal case filed by John W. Terry. In the article, Terry appeals against the charge levelled against him and his colleagues for carrying concealed weapons. The Supreme court of the United States affirmed the charge and stated that McFadden acted reasonably in conducting the search and seizure because he first suspected that the accused were carrying concealed weapons and only placed his hands in their pockets or under the outer surface of their garments after feeling weapons, and then simply reached for and removed the same guns that he suspected, and nothing else (Terry v. Ohio, 1968). This indicates that he followed the stipulations of the Fourth Amendment concerning search and seizure of weapons (Terry v. Ohio, 1968, p. 5). The ruling states that:
“The scope of the search in this case presents no serious problem in light of these standards. Officer McFadden patted down the outer clothing of petitioner and his two companions. He did not place his hands in their pockets or under the outer surface of their garments until he had felt weapons, and then he merely reached for and removed the guns. He never did invade Katz’ person beyond the outer surfaces of his clothes, since he discovered nothing in his patdown which might have been a weapon. Officer McFadden confined his search strictly to what was minimally necessary to learn whether the men were armed and to disarm them once he discovered the weapons. He did not conduct a general exploratory search for whatever evidence of criminal activity he might find (Terry v. Ohio, 1968, p. 4).”
The ruling made in the case of Terry v. Ohio brings into play two perspectives of law concerning ‘search’ and ‘seizure’, particularly ‘A Plain View’ search and seizure and ‘A Plain Touch’ search and seizure. In the article ‘Stop, Question & Frisk-The “Plain Touch” Exception To The Search Warrant Requirement’ by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner on Legal Matters (1993), the case of People v. Diaz is used to clarify why the “Plain Touch” exception is not allowed according to the stipulations of the Fourth Amendment. The article argues that in a lawful “stop, question, and frisk” process founded on realistic suspicion, a police officer is not allowed to reach into the pockets of a suspect and take out objects that are felt during the defensive frisk when he or she believes that those particular objects are crack vials, thus rejecting the exception of “Plain Touch”. In the “plain touch” exception, a police officer is allowed to search the suspect and remove objects without determining the criminal nature of the object being removed, while a “plain view” approach to handling suspects only admits the performance of a seizure without search, and warrants only a frisk where the officer holding the suspect only pats-down the clothing of the suspect. This agrees with the rulings that were made in the Terry v. Ohio appeal case, which rule against the infringement of privacy.
In the article, Letter from Birmingham Jail written by Martin Luther King (1963) to
his fellow clergymen, he talks about the racial prejudice that the government
and the church have displayed in handling Negros. He complains that the church
has failed to support their peaceful demonstration against the mistreatment
that they face from the United States government because they are not White.
Some of them are arrested in the process of peacefully demonstrating to air
their grievances against segregation. This affirms the complaint that was
raised by Jay-z in his lyric 99 Problems
against law enforcers mistreating black people because of their black skin
color. Partial enforcement of law goes against the Constitution of the United
States and the stipulations of the Fourth Amendment. The article dubbed the Bill of Rights gives a summary of the
rights that citizens of U.S ought to enjoy and could similarly guide the action
of the police and other law enforcers while handling cases similar to the ones
initially described. Of particular interest, however, to this paper is
Amendment I, II, III, and IV (the Fourth Amendment), which stipulate the right
of U.S citizens to express themselves freely and peacefully, petition the
government to redress their grievances, to keep and own firearms, to be
protected against illegal search and seizure, whether to their possessions or
as individuals respectively.
“The Charters of Freedom: A New Worls is at Hand.”(n.d). Bill of Rights. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html
Amar, A. R. (1991). The Bill of Rights as a Constitution. Yale Law Journal, 1131-1210.
King Jr, M. L. (1963). Letter from Birmingham jail. April, 16, 1963.
Maclin, T. (1998). Terry v. Ohio’s Fourth Amendment Legacy: Black Men and Police Discretion. . John’s L. Rev., 72, 1271.
Mason, C. (2011). Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading with Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps. . Louis ULJ, 56, 567.
McFadden, M. (1963, October 31). McFadden’s- Peter Moskos. Retrieved from http://petermoskos.com/readings/mcfadden_report.pdf
Office of the Deputy Commissioner-Legal Matters (1993, June). Stop, Question & Frisk- The “Plain Touch” Exception to the Search. Legal Bureau Bulletin, 23(2). Retrieved from http://petermoskos.com/readings/nypd_diaz_plain_feel.pdf