Prior to beginning your written assignment, read the Excessive Bail (Links to an external site.) article and review all previous weeks’ materials concerning the 4th Amendment, due process, the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, cruel and unusual punishment and capital punishment.
In the state of Denial, the Capital City Police have been watching gang activity between two local gangs, the Drips and the Scruds. The Scruds are mad at the Drips because they believe that the Drips have been encroaching on the Scruds’ territory and selling drugs in the Scruds’ neighborhood. Members of the gangs take the first letter of the gang’s affiliation for their “gang name.” For example, the leader of the Drips is assumed the name Dripster, while the leader of the Scrips took on the name Stupido. Officers Do-Right and Justice have been assigned to the case and have been following members of both gangs closely over the past several weeks.
Dripster (the leader of the Drips) has been driving around in a Black Chevrolet Blazer that is registered to his girlfriend. Do-Right and Justice have placed a tracking device on the vehicle so that they can follow the gang leader at a safe distance without him noticing them. Using the tracking device, they have followed him to a party being held at a house owned by the girlfriend of a fellow Drip, Dufus.
The officers decide to use a new device that they have obtained from the police department called the Bloodhound, which can sniff out certain smells from a distance. Using the Bloodhound, the officers have determined that inside the house are the following substances: marijuana, creatine (which is commonly used to cut cocaine), and lye (which can be used in making methamphetamine). Based upon the information they have obtained from the Bloodhound, they call a magistrate and obtain a search warrant for Dufus’ house.
After backup arrives, Officers Do-Right and Justice lead the way to the house, where they break through the front door of the house without first knocking and announcing their presence. Inside the house, they find Dripster sitting at the kitchen table in front of a scale and a white powdery substance, which is later determined to be to be cocaine. They also find Dufus in a back room surrounded by boxes of electronics and a pile of cash that they later determine to be $50,000. With Dufus are two low-level Drips, Dummy and Duncecap, who are armed with automatic assault rifles and loaded handguns.
When the officers rush into the room where Dufus, Dummy, and Duncecap are, Duncecap immediately throws up his hands and tells the officers, “I’ll tell you everything I know! Just don’t arrest me!” Dufus turns to his accomplices and says, “If either of you says a word, you are dead meat.” Duncecap immediately stops talking and claims he “doesn’t know anything about anything.”
As Do-Right is escorting Dripster to his cruiser after he has arrested him, a carload of Scruds drives by slowly. The Scruds’ leader, Stupido, leans out of his window and yells to Dripster, “I told you to keep your business off our turf!” Dripster, thinking Stupido is the reason that the cops raided the house, grabs Do-Right’s gun and opens fire towards Stupido’s car. Dripster misses Stupido and his car, but he shoots and injures a 12-year-old girl, Innocent, who is watching the arrests in her front yard across the street. Innocent survives but is paralyzed. At the same time, Stupido, realizing that Dripster is shooting at him, grabs his own weapon from the car and shoots at his arch-enemy but misses him.
Officers are able to safely transport Dripster, Dufus, Dummy, and Duncecap to the police station and have also arrested Stupido. They search Stupido’s car at the scene and find the gun he used to shoot at Dripster. Ballistics shows that the gun was used in a previous armed robbery of a party store. Stupido is charged with the robbery.
At the police station, Officer Justice, who is questioning Dummy without first reading Miranda warnings, tells Dummy that if he tells him everything he knows about the rivalry between the Drips and the Scruds and agrees to testify against the members of both gangs, the police will charge him with only possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. Dummy takes the deal.
Stupido was interrogated at the police station regarding the armed robbery and told that he had been named as the robber by an eyewitness. He asked for his lawyer three times, but his lawyer, who arrived at the police station while Stupido was being interrogated, was twice denied entry to the interrogation. After three hours of interrogation, Stupido confesses to the armed robbery.
Dripster is convicted of attempted murder of Innocent and sentenced to death. He is also convicted of possession with intent to sell marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine. He is additionally convicted of possession of stolen property (the electronics) and unregistered firearms. Stupido is convicted of the armed robbery and attempting to murder Dripster. Dufus and Duncecap are also convicted of possession with intent to sell marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine; possession of stolen property (the electronics); and for unregistered firearms. Dummy is convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
The cases are all combined as People v. Dripster, Dummy & Stupido , et al. The following points have been appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. You are an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and this case has come before the Court. The Chief Justice has assigned you to write a majority opinion resolving the case. In your paper,
- Write an opinion (an analysis of the questions below that will serve as the reasoning and the ruling of the Supreme Court) that resolves the case based upon previous cases from the United States Supreme Court, other federal and state courts, and other scholarly sources.
- Explain your opinion on each of the following points:
- Evaluate whether all the evidence from the house should have been suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree, because the placing of a tracking device on the Blazer driven by Dripster without a warrant and without probable cause violated the Fourth Amendment.
- Assess whether all the evidence from the house should have been suppressed because the use of the Bloodhound device without a warrant and without probable cause violated the Fourth Amendment.
- Determine whether all evidence from the house should have been suppressed because the warrant issued by the magistrate was based upon information obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
- Rule on whether all evidence from the house should have been suppressed because the police officers did not knock and announce; the warrant was not a no-knock warrant.
- Conclude whether the gun used by Stupido should have been suppressed because the officers had no right to search his car at the scene.
- Examine whether Dummy’s conviction for marijuana possession should be overturned, because he was not read Miranda warnings before making a deal.
- Evaluates whether Stupido’s confession should have been suppressed, because his lawyer was not allowed to see him.
- Explain the validity of Dripster’s death sentence for shooting and paralyzing Innocent violates the Eighth Amendment.