These critical thinking questions come from Chapter 15, 16, 17, and 18 of textbook Scheb, John, Criminal Law and Procedure, 8th edition, ISBN 9781285070117, Cengage Publisher
A local police department suspects that three individuals, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, are growing marijuana on their property and selling it around town.The officers, though, do not have probable cause to obtain a warrant.As a result, the officers begin discussing some creative avenues for acquiring information about these individuals and their activities.A rookie officer who majored in Political Science in college offers three options: 1) looking through trash left outside of the suspects’ home; 2) flying over the suspects’ backyard and using standard binoculars to search for marijuana plants; and 3) using a newly developed piece of equipment that can scan the suspects’ house and detect the presence of large quantities of organic plants.Answer the following questions about these options and explain your choices.
- The Supreme Court’s decision in Kyllo v. United States has implications for which option?
- Option 1
- Option 2
- Option 3
- None of the options
2. Which of these Supreme Court cases has direct implications for Option 1?
a. Californiav. Greenwood
b. Kyllo v. United States
c. Herring v. United States
d. United States v. Ross
3. Which of these options is most likely to be deemed unconstitutional?
a. Option 1
b. Option 2
c. Option 3
d. Options 1 and 2
4. If the police had probable cause suggesting that these three individuals were growing and selling marijuana in their home, then which of the following would be true:
a. Police could forcibly enter the home without a warrant
b. Police would likely be granted a search warrant by a magistrate
c. Police could break into a parked car in the home’s driveway and execute a search without a warrant
d. All of the above are true
Three college students are travelling from upstate New York to Florida for spring break.In Buford, Georgia, they come to a stop at DUI checkpoint.An officer approaches the driver’s side window, determines that the driver is sober, and tells the college students to head on their way.However, a second officer, suspicious of the out-of-state license plate, attaches a GPS locator to the car’s rear bumper just before the students drive off.Police conduct surveillance on the car’s movements for the next week, and after determining that the car went to Florida—movements that the officers deem consistent with drug trafficking—the Buford police determine that they will stop this vehicle the next time it enters their jurisdiction.Sure enough, as the car enters Buford on the college student’s trip home after a week in Florida, it is pulled over by an officer.As the driver hands the officer a driver’s license, the officer says that he smells marijuana in the car and initiates a search of the vehicle.Inside a zipped backpack on the backseat, he finds contraband and makes an arrest.Explain your choices.
1. An officer’s act of visually inspecting the inside of the car at a DUI checkpoint is:
e. a violation of the Fourth Amendment, according to Supreme Court precedent
f. a violation of the 2nd Amendment, according to Supreme Court precedent
g. not a unconstitutional, according to Supreme Court precedent
h. only acceptable with a warrant, according to Supreme Court precedent
1. The act of placing a GPS locator on the rear bumper of the car and conducting surveillance on its movements is:
a. acceptable behavior without a warrant because the car is in “plain view”
b. a violation of the Fourth Amendment according to the decision in U.S. v. Jones
c. acceptable behavior without a warrant under the “exigent circumstance” doctrine
d. permitted under the 4th Amendment according to the decision in U.S. v. Jones
2. Assume that the traffic stop on the student’s return trip had in fact been a valid one.Further assume that an officer legitimately smells marijuana.Evaluate all of the statements below and determine which is true.
a. The officer could conduct a search of the vehicle because the odor of marijuana provides the necessary probable cause, but could not search a closed backpack.
b. The officer could search a closed backpack sitting on the backseat because the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Ross permits a comprehensive search of a vehicle’s contents when probable cause exists.
c. After smelling marijuana, the officer needs to call a judge to obtain a warrant before search any part of the vehicle, as declared in the Supreme Court’s decision in Kyllo v. United States
d. All statements are false.
Billy is driving home from a bar on a Friday night when he comes upon a DUI checkpoint.At the checkpoint, an officer smells alcohol on Billy’s breath and asks him to step out of the car.Billy stumbles out of the car and slurs his words when asked a few basic questions about who he is and where he is going.Billy refuses to consent to a breathalyzer, but the officer does have a video camera record Billy as he is stumbling and slurring his words.Billy is arrested on suspicion of DUI and taken to the police station.At the station, a sample of Billy’s blood is taken.Although Billy does not consent to this, he is too drunk to put up much resistance.At his trial, officers play a video of Billy slurring his words and also introduce the blood evidence.He is convicted of DUI.Give your opinion of the best outcome.
- The lack of Miranda warnings in this situation will:
- likely lead to lead to the confession being thrown out, because this was a custodial interrogation.
- likely lead to the confession being thrown out even though this was patently not a custodial interrogation—since he was arrested for DUI, not murder.
- not affect the admissibility of his statements in a trial for murder.
- not affect the admissibility of his statements in a trial for DUI.
- Let’s assume that an appellate court throws out the confession because Billy was not read his Miranda rights.The gun and any DNA evidence found next to the dead body could be considered:
- Valid evidence derived from a custodial interrogation
- Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
- Valid evidence derived from a reasonable suspicion search
- Admissible in a DUI trial only
3.Based on the Supreme Court’s decision in _____________, if other officers had already made plans to send a search party into the woods first thing in the morning, then police might be able to invoke the inevitable discovery doctrine in order to use the evidence found on and around the body at trial.
a.Wong Sun v. United States
b. Minnesota v. Dickerson
c. Nix v. Williams
d. New York v. Quarles
4. Let’s now assume that Billy was in fact read Miranda warning before he was brought into the interrogation room.Let’s also assume that, before he broke down and gave his confession, he had been through three grueling hours of interrogation, during which time he remained mostly silent.Which of the following is true?
a. The interrogation went on too long, and his statement about the body should be excluded.
b. Based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Berghuis v. Thompkins, this statement will be admissible because Billy did not explicitly invoke his right to remain silent at any point.
c. Based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Nix v. Williams, any evidence derived from this confession should be excluded.
d. The Miranda Rights were read for his DUI arrest and he should have been read a new set before being interrogated for murder.
In the year 2035, you graduate from law school at Emmett Brown Polytechnic University.The university’s “Department of Space-Time Inquiry” decides to send you back to the year 1935 in its newly-created time machine. Unfortunately, the machine malfunctions and you enter a cycle that has you bouncing from the year 1935 to the year 1965 to the year 1995.At each stop, you land in a public defender’s office.Your ability to return to your normal life in 2035 is dependent on your ability to successfully assist three indigent criminal defendants—one at each of your time travel stops.If you can accomplish this task, the cycle of time travel will be broken. Thankfully, your legal education has afforded you an exceptional knowledge of case law related to the “right to counsel”—and this will come in handy! Explain the options you chose.
- At your first stop, in the year 1935, a judge could appoint you to serve as a counsel for an indigent defendant if which of the following criteria is met:
- The defendant is facing any misdemeanor charge.
- The defendant is facing a felony carrying more than 5 years in prison.
- The defendant is accused of a crime that could bring the death penalty
- There are no criteria by which to determine when counsel should be appointed at this point in time, because the Supreme Court has never addressed the issue.
- At your second stop, in the year 1965, the rules have changed as a result of which important Supreme Court case related to appointing counsel for indigent defendants:
- Gideon v. Waiwright
- Argersinger v. Hamlin
- Miranda v. Arizona
- Miranda v. Connecticut
3. By 1995, as a result of cases like Scott v. Illinois, the range of indigent clients that you could represent as appointed counsel has expanded to include which of the following:
a. Only those facing life in prison.
b. Anyone facing any misdemeanor charge
c. Anyone subjected to actual imprisonment for a misdemeanor charge
d. Only those facing felony charges, although length of incarceration faced is irrelevant
.Explain the options you chose.
Famous football star Oxford Jack Wilson is about to stand trial for murdering his brother-in-law, a man who had also served as his agent and accountant. Just before jury selection is about to begin, you are hired as a consultant to assist his legal team. You immediately offer three suggestions. Your first is that the legal defense team attempt to get as many men—preferably football fans—on the jury as possible. Your next suggestion is to make sure that the courtroom is packed with members of the media, in the hope of making Oxford Jack appear to be a celebrity. Your final suggestion is that the attorneys do whatever they can to have potentially-damaging DNA evidence excluded before trial. The lawyers get to work on immediately implementing your ideas.
- The attempt to exclude women from the jury could be deemed inconsistent with the principles articulated in what Supreme Court case?
- Crawford v. Washington
- Sheppard v. Maxwell
- Taylor v. Louisiana
- It would not run afoul of any Supreme Court precedent
2. If prosecutors attempt to exclude African-Americans from the jury by use of peremptory challenges, then:
a. This would not be grounds for appeal, as per the Supreme Court’s ruling in Batson v. Kentucky
b. This would not be grounds for appeal, as only gender discrimination is grounds for appeal
c. The precedent in Taylor v. Louisiana would be directly applicable to the matter at hand
d. This could serve as grounds for appeal, as per the Supreme Court’s ruling in Batson v Kentucky
3. If the media that pack the courtroom become unruly and detract from the orderly procession of the trial, the Supreme Court’s decisions in Sheppard v. Maxwell and Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, indicate that which of the following statements is true:
a. There is absolutely nothing that the judge can do, because there is a right to a public trial and a First Amendment right to freedom of the press.
b. Although there is a presumption of openness, a judge has some discretion for excluding the press, particularly if there is a prejudicial impact on the defense.
c. A judge has a very low burden to meet in deciding when to exclude press from the courtroom, as the First Amendment rights at stake are not significant.
d. All of these statements are false
4. Let’s say that the DNA evidence in this case was derived from a small sample of blood that had to be genetically replicated before it could be tested. The technique for doing so has not achieved “general acceptance” in the scientific community, but it is a testable and could be subjected to peer review. Evaluate these statements: 1) In a state that uses the Frye standard, the evidence is likely to be excluded at trial; 2) In a state that uses the Daubert standard, there is a chance that the evidence could be permitted at trial.
a. Statement 1 is true; Statement 2 is false.
b. Both statements are true.
c. Both statements are false.
d. Statement 2 is true; Statement 1 is false
5. The opportunity for lawyers to ask questions of prospective jurors to determine whether they may or may not be football fans with previous perceptions of the defendant would occur during:
a. a preliminary hearing
c. voir dire
d. closing arguments
The trial of famous football star Oxford Jack Wilson, accused of killing his brother-in-law, is underway. Prosecutors, frustrated by a pre-trial decision that excluded their key DNA evidence, begin taking some risks. On direct examination, they ask a doctor the following question: “So when you read a report of DNA results from the night of the murder, you saw that the defendant’s DNA matched blood evidence at the scene, correct?” Next, while questioning a police officer on direct examination, the prosecutors play an audiotape of a phone conversation between Oxford Jack’s wife and her now-deceased brother. This audiotape includes the wife discussing fears that her husband might be a violent man. However, Oxford Jack’s wife is not actually able to appear in person because she has fled the country, fearing for her safety. Finally, during closing arguments, the prosecutor refers to Oxford Jack as a “monster both on and off the football field.” Answer the following questions about what has taken place in this trial.
6. As to the prosecutor’s comment made during closing argument:
a.This is acceptable; a prosecutor can say whatever they want during closing.
b.This is grounds for a judge to admonish the prosecutor and to instruct a jury to disregard the remark.
c.This is irrelevant information to the case, but a judge is powerless to rectify the problem, as the case has technically concluded by that point.
d.This type of comment is acceptable only if the prosecutor is offering a rebuttal to comments made during defense closing
7. Which of the following is the most likely grounds for defense counsel to invoke when objecting to the question asked of the doctor?
b.Asks for an opinion
d.Best Evidence Rule
8. The playing of the audiotape is likely to be excluded as a violation of:
a. Clergy-Penitent Privilege
d.No privilege would apply here because we can assume the wife would want it played.
9. The audiotape could also be problematic for violating which of the following:
a.The 6th Amendment, provided that it is considered testimonial evidence
b.The 6th Amendment, whether it is considered testimonial evidence or not
c.The 5th Amendment, whether it is considered testimonial evidence or not
d.The 8th Amendment, provided that it is considered testimonial evidence
10. There is a way that a clever prosecutor might be able to include the audiotape. This would have to rely upon:
a. Davis v. Washington and the presumption that non-testimonial evidence is involved
b. Crawford v. Washington, and the fact that the witness is not available
c.The Daubert standard for scientific evidence
d.The notion of a public trial, as discussed in Sheppard v. Maxwell