Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Coolidge v. New Hampshire case brief

Coolidge v. New Hampshire case brief summary
403 U.S. 443 (1971)

Petitioner sought certiorari to review the judgment of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire, which admitted certain evidence that petitioner claimed was obtained through an illegal search and seizure.

Petitioner appealed the judgment of the lower court that affirmed the admission of evidence at a murder trial. Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment.

  • The Court reversed, holding that the warrant that authorized the search and seizure of petitioner's automobile was invalid because it had not been issued by a neutral or detached magistrate. 
  • The warrant had been issued by the attorney general, who was actively in charge of the investigation of the murder and who was later to be the chief prosecutor at the trial. 
  • The Court rejected the contention that the search of the automobile was incident to a valid arrest because petitioner was arrested in his house and the car was outside some distance away. 
  • The search did not come within the automobile exception to the warrant requirement because the automobile was regularly parked in the driveway and was not fleeing, and the items searched for were not contraband. 
  • Finally, the Court found that the car was not an instrumentality of the crime that could be seized in plain view because the police knew in advance of the car's location and had ample opportunity to obtain a valid warrant.

The Court reversed and remanded and held that the search was unconstitutional since the warrant was not issued by a neutral and detached magistrate and the search did not come within the plain view or automobile exceptions to the warrant requirement nor did the search constitute a search incident to a valid arrest.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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