Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Winston v. Lee case brief

Winston v. Lee case brief summary
470 U.S. 753 (1985)

Petitioners challenged an order from the United States Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit, which under the U.S. Constitutional Amendment IV, affirmed the order from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia where petitioners sought to compel surgery to remove a bullet from respondent.

Petitioners alleged that a bullet in respondent's chest was evidence that would link respondent to a crime. Petitioners sought a motion to compel surgery to remove the bullet. Such surgery required the use of a general anesthetic. Respondent alleged that removal of the bullet from his chest was a substantial violation of his rights under the FourthAmendment, U.S. Constitutional Amendment IV.


  • The court held that the proper safeguards were present and exhausted. 
  • The court held that the reasonableness of surgical intrusions beneath the skin depended on a case-by-case approach, in which the individual's interests in privacy and security were weighed against society's interests in conducting the procedure. 
  • The court held the operation would substantially intrude on respondent's protected interests. 
  • The court affirmed the injunction against petitioners' request.
Affirmed the order of the appellate court and granted an injunction against petitioners' attempt to force respondent to undergo surgery in order to remove potential evidence from respondent's chest because such act was a substantial intrusion and violated respondent's constitutional rights.

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