Minnesota v Dickerson Essay

This essay has a total of 3041 words and 18 pages.

Minnesota v Dickerson


Jurisdiction _____________________________________ 1
Statement of the Case ____________________________ 1-7
Question Presented _______________________________ 7-8
Summary of Argument ______________________________ 8-11
Analysis of Issue 1 ______________________________ 11-12
Analysis of Issue 2 ______________________________ 13-14
Conclusion _______________________________________ 14-15



Arizona vs. Hicks, 480 U.S 321 (1987)

Certiorari, 506 U.S. 814 (1992)

Illinois vs. Andreas, 463 U.S. 765 (1983)

Mapp vs. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)

Michigan vs. Long, 463 U.S. 1032 n. 16 (1983)

Terry vs. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)

Texas vs. Brown, 460 U.S. 730 (1983)

U.S. Constitution

Fourth Amendment

Plain Touch Doctrine


The Minnesota Supreme Court found the respondent Timothy Dickerson guilty of the
possession of cocaine. The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the decision. The Supreme
Court of the United States of America granted certiorari and found that contraband
detected through touch shall be admissible in court. This was affirmed on June 7, 1993.


On the night of November 9, 1989 two Minneapolis law enforcement officers were patrolling
an area on the city’s north side in a marked squad car. At 8:15 p.m. one of the
patrolling police officers noticed the defendant, Timothy Dickerson, leaving a twelve-unit
apartment building on Morgan Avenue North. This particular officer had often responded to
calls from this building in the past regarding different drug violations. The building
had notoriously been referred to as a “crack house” and this is partially why the officers
assumed there were illegal actions occurring when the respondent was leaving the location.

According to information released at the time of the trial, the defendant was walking
toward the police officers’ vehicle when he suddenly changed direction and began running
away from where they were parked. The officers began to watch him suspiciously and
observed his actions while he walked down a quiet and empty alley. The officers suspected
that the defendant was involved in some type of drug trafficking and continued to follow
him and investigate him further.

Before the trial the defendant moved to suppress the cocaine that was found by the
officers that night. However, this was negated because the officers were justified from
the case law under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). This case had very similar issues to
that of the one in question dealing with past happenings with the law enforcement
officers. In this situation a police detective named McFadden was patrolling the
Cleveland area when he noticed two strangers on a street corner, one of which was the
petitioner. Detective McFadden noticed that the two men were staring into a store window
for a suspicious period of time. Even more suspicious was the fact that later that
evening the two men met with a thirdman that also seemed to appear quite suspicious.
Detective McFadden claimed that he felt that the three men were planning on robbing a
nearby convenience store. The detective then decided to approach the three men and to
explain who he was. The detective then went on to search the petitioner and found a pistol
on the outside of his clothing but was somehow unable to remove it. Detective McFadden
brought all three men down to the police station. The petitioner was charged with
concealment of a weapon and the defense moved to suppress the weapon.

The proceedings that followed also related to the search and seizure issues presented in
Minnesota vs. Dickerson. Also, in Terry vs. Ohio, the court denied the motion to suppress
the weapon and allowed it to be used as evidence in the trial. Since the petitioner and
the other two men were acting in such a conspicuous manner, it seemed understandable as to
why the detective would be question their behavior. The petitioner and one of his friends
were found guilty and the appellate court affirmed the original ruling. The issues that
pertain to Minnesota vs. Dickerson involve the Fourth Amendment rights against
unreasonable search and seizure. This amendment was put in effect with the purpose of
protecting people against unreasonable behavior by a law enforcement officer who has the
power to restrain someone. It is used as a restriction so that there is some guideline to
where the power of the police ends and the rights of a citizen begin. The defendant argued
that his

rights should have been protected over that of the store the detective thought to be in
danger. Nevertheless, the issue of Detective McFadden’s behavior is not the issue that is
at question. Rather, we should place more emphasis on the evidence that was suppressed at
the time of the frisk. This case discussed similar issues that pertained to Minnesota vs.
Dickerson and it is necessary to realize its importance and relevance to the circumstances
at hand.

Mapp vs. Ohio 367 U.S. 643 (1961) is another case that can be referenced in making a
decision for the present case. There was a similar situation involved in which an illegal
or supposed illegal search was done in a woman’s house. The police officers entered the
woman’s house and showed her a piece of paper that they claimed to be a warrant. The
officers claimed the woman took the warrant in her hand yet no warrant could be presented
at the time of trial. The officers found lewd apparel about her home such as movies,
magazines, etc., and they convicted her. The case was appealed and the ruling reversed
because the officers did not have reasonable ground to enter her home nor had they any
proof that a warrant ever even existed.

After finding the gun in Minnesota vs. Dickerson, the law enforcement officers went on to
question the defendant and order him to a pat-down search to check for anything else
illegal that may have been on him. The police officers claimed that they felt a lump in
his pocket while doing the previous search and they felt this was enough reason to search
him for any other illegal matter he may have had on him. The officer continued to check
him and found a small plastic bag containing one fifth of one gram of crack cocaine. The
officers then arrested the defendant and charged him in the Hennepin County District Court
with possession of a controlled substance. The court ruled that the officers had
reasonable ground for searching the respondent. Under the ‘Plain-view Doctrine’ the
officers can render a warrantless seizure of any types of contraband that they may find in
plain view during a lawful search for other items. The court deemed the officers to be
within their boundaries and found that the seizure of the contraband was not in violation
of his Fourth Amendment rights.It is very difficult to know whether the officers really
did have any reasonable cause to believe there an actual illegal activity was going to
occur or whether that was just the excuse they used in order to search the respondent.
Also there is a question whether or not the search was really in the context of the law.
The issue regarding the ‘plain-view doctrine’ was brought up at the first trial and it was
decided that plain feel is the same as plain sight. Therefore, it was shown that the
officers were correct in their decision to continue searching the respondent and he was
later found to be guilty of the possession.

The decision was reversed at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The Minnesota Court, in
using the decision made in Terry vs. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). agreed with the trial court
in that it found that the officers were lawful in following the respondent and proceeding
to search him. Also that they had the right to follow and investigate him because they
had reasonable suspicion that there were illegal substances on his being. However, the
court ruled that the law enforcement officers may have stepped over their boundaries in
the way they went about seizing the bag of cocaine they found on the respondent.The
Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the original decision and concluded that the stop and
frisk were validunder Terry vs. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) but found that the seizure of the
cocaine was unconstitutional. The court expressly refused:

“to extend the plain view doctrine to the
sense of touch on the grounds that the sense
of touch is inherently less immediate and
less reliable than the sense of sight and
that the sense of touch is far more intrusive
into the personal privacy that is at the
core of the Fourth Amendment” 481 N.W.2d 840,
Continues for 9 more pages >>

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