Randi HeimanConstitutional Criminal Procedures
Title: Coolidge v. New Hampshire
Citation: 403 US 433 (1970)
In the case of Coolidge v. New Hampshire, the warrant issued to search the defendant’s automobile did not satisfy the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. The reason for this is because the warrant was not issued or approved by a “neutral and detached magistrate.” The constitutional rule states that searches conducted outside the judicial process without the approval of a magistrate is considered unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. According to this, a warrantless search and seizure of the automobile is not justified.
Along with that, the search of Coolidge’s car was not done prior to his arrest, but instead after he had already been taken into custody. However, if any evidence had been in plain view, they could have legally seized it without a warrant. The police knew the vehicle could hold substantial evidence against Coolidge and had the opportunity to attain a valid warrant but did not do so.
With the evidence of Coolidge’s guns and clothing given to officers by his wife, it was decided that she was not acting as a government agent.
Question before the court:
What are the issues regarding the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in this case?
Was this search and seizure considered unconstitutional?
The decision made by the court was five votes for Coolidge and four against. The court decided