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Brief : Terry v. Ohio - Case Study Example

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Case Brief: Terry v. Ohio *Name of the Author* *Name of the Institution* Abstract For many years now, Police in the United States have engaged in investigative practices which are commonly known as ‘Stop and Frisk’. This process normally involves the stopping of a person or vehicle with the purpose of interrogation or a brief investigation…
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Case Brief : Terry v. Ohio
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Download file to see previous pages Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). This Case Brief will discuss the factual matrix of this case followed by the ratio decidendi as laid down by the hon’ble Supreme Court. This Case Brief also aims at answering some of the following questions: 1. Were Terry and the other men in violation of the Fourth Amendment? 2. What was the position of law before Terry v. Ohio? 3. What analysis did the court make in delivering the judgment? 4. What are the future effects of this Case on policing and law enforcement? Case Brief Factual Matrix In the instant case, the Petitioner sought a review of the judgment passed by the Ohio Supreme Court which affirmed the Petitioner’s Conviction in the lower Court for carrying a concealed weapon. The facts in brief are as follows: On 31 October, 1963, Martin McFadden (the officer), a Cleveland detective observed two strangers (Terry, the petitioner and another man, Chilton) on a street corner. He saw them proceed alternately back and forth along an identical route, pausing to stare in the same store window, which they did for a total of about 24 times. The officer suspected the two mean of "casing a job, a stick-up.” The officer followed them and saw them rejoin the third man (Katz) a couple of blocks away in front of a store. The officer approached the three, identified himself as a policeman, and asked their names. The men "mumbled something," whereupon the officer spun the petitioner around, patted down his outside clothing, and found in his overcoat pocket, but was unable to remove, a pistol. The officer ordered the three into the store. He removed petitioner's overcoat, took out a revolver, and ordered the three to face the wall with their hands raised. He patted down the outer clothing of Chilton and Katz and seized a revolver from Chilton's outside overcoat pocket. The petitioner and Chilton were charged with carrying concealed weapons.1 The trial court denied the motion to suppress the weapons and admitted them into evidence on the ground that the officer had reasonable cause to believe that the petitioner and Chilton were acting suspiciously and that their interrogation was warranted. The officer, for his own protection, had the right to pat down their outer clothing having reasonable cause to believe that they might be armed. The court also distinguished between an investigatory "stop" and an arrest, and between a "frisk" of the outer clothing for weapons and a full-blown search for evidence of crime. The petitioner and Chilton were found guilty, an intermediate appellate court affirmed, and the State Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on the ground that "no substantial constitutional question" was involved.2 Issues before the United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States admitted the appeal on the substantial constitutional question, “Whether it is unreasonable for a police officer to seize a person and subject him to a limited search for weapons without probable cause”. Decision In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court held that the search undertaken by the officer was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.3 The Court found that "any reasonably prudent man would have been warranted in believing [Terry] was armed and thus presented a threat to the officer's safety while he was investigating his suspicious behavior."4 The Court found t ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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