Weeks v United States
In this case, the police entered Weeks apartment are carried out a warrantless search and seized some items. In this arbitrary search, they found out that he was moving raffle tickets through mail. Weeks felt that the police violated his constitutional rights and he decided to petition this action. He demanded that the government return his personal belongings. The big question in this case is that did that search of Weeks’ home and confiscation of his personal items go against the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution? (Kanovitz, 2012)
The court approached this matter by solidly admitting that the search and seizure of Weeks items from his home doubtlessly infringed on his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the constitution. Besides, the government’s objection to return the items was further a violation of such rights. This is because these actions underrated the provision of the 4th Amendment, which safeguards the right of every citizen against such unlawful search and confiscation of property. This was indeed the first practical application of the Rule of Exclusion. (Weebly)
Silverthorne Lumber Company v. United States
This is a case in which, US accused Silverthorne Lumber Company of some indictment in 1919. The District Court fined Silverthorne Lumber Company $250 for the contempt of court. The court further ordered Fredrick W. Silverthorne to be imprisoned until he can eliminate such contempt. The court perceived Silverthorne as contemptuous by refusing to obey the court order required him to produce his company’s books and documents before the grand jury. The prosecution intended to use the items as evidence against him in the case. He refused to comply arguing that the court infringed his rights under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. This is because the police had arrested him and his father without any warrant and detained them for many hours. During their detention, officials from the Department of Justice and the US marshal ransacked their house for more evidence. (Forbes, 2008)
The big question in this case is that did the search and seizure of Silverthorne’s home violate the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution? Did the police acquire the evidence illegally during the search? The Court of appeal responded to these questions by sending a writ of error to the District Court to reverse its judgment on this case. The District Court ordered for the return of all the items seized illegally. The scrutiny established that the search and seizure was unwarranted by any court of law and, that rendered it illegal.
Mapp v Ohio
This case involved Miss Mapp, an American citizen residing in Ohio and the government of the US. On 3rd May 1957, police officers entered Miss Mapp’s private apartment and conducted a search without a court warrant. The intention of this warrantless search was to find a fugitive. However, the police found no fugitive but ended up with pornographic materials. This was a violation of Ohio obscenity laws. The police then arrested her for this violation. She was arraigned in court and convicted based on this evidence. This case triggered off the critique on the applicability of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection and Due Process clauses. Miss Mapp successfully appealed against this ruling on the grounds of violation of her constitutional rights during the search. (Zotti, 2005)
The questions arising from these three cases required the address of the exclusionary rule. This rule is a provided for the 4th and 5th Amendments of the US Constitution that address the Due Process and the rights of the defendant. The exclusionary rule permits the courts leave out the incriminating evidence from introduction at trial once proved that such evidence was acquired without a constitution provision. It gives the defendant an opportunity to challenge the admissibility of that evidence by bringing a pre-trial motion to defeat the evidence. This can happen if the court allows the prosecution to introduce such evidence at trial and the jury votes to convict the defendant based on that evidence. This means that convicting the defendant would not be easy because the evidence would be possibly excluded from the prosecution.
Despite the fact that all the accused persons in the three cases were having evidence that could incriminate them, they walked out of the courts freely. The government has to obey the constitution of the land fully in handling crime. It has to follow the due process fully and uphold all the constitutional rights of an accused person. Breaching any of these rights renders the case controversial and the government stands greater chance of losing.
In conclusion, the above cases have been used as the litmus paper for testing the way in which government officials conduct search and seize items from accused persons. Before these cases, the government over-looked the Fourth Amendment. The Amendment therefore puts the state and Federal courts on the watch as it protects all citizens against illegal acquisition and use of evidence by those who execute the criminal laws of the country. The protection is applicable to all citizens whether accused of a crime or not. Persons whose evidence have been acquired by the prosecution unlawfully or are forced to confess can appeal for the restoration of their constitutional rights. This is what Exclusionary Rule does.
Forbes, W. (2008). The Investigation of Crime. New York: Kaplan Publishing.
Kanovitz, J. R. (2012). Constitutional Law. Waltham: Elsevier .
Weebly. (n.d.). Wekks v United Staes. Retrieved Feb. 15, 2013, from http:Fmrsimmings.weebly.com%2Fuploads%2F1%2F3%2F1%2F3%2F13138975%2Fweeks_v_
Zotti, P. M. ( 2005). Injustice For All: Mapp Vs. Ohio And The Fourth Amendment
(illustrated ed.). New York: Peter Lang.