Project #88327 - 3 page 4th Amendment paper

Write a paper that analyzes the following two scenarios:

Hypothetical Fact Pattern #1

Debra works at Acme Systems, a private information technology company.  One day, when Debra goes to the copy room, she leaves her purse on her desk.  Bob, an Acme security guard who wants to detect and prevent drug use in the workplace, searches Debra’s purse and discovers marijuana.  Bob reports the marijuana to the management team, which promptly fires Debra.

Did Bob violate Debra’s 4th Amendment rights?  Explain your answer.

Hint:  Who does the 4th Amendment apply to?  Whose behavior is restrained by the 4th Amendment?  Look over page 52 (bottom) and page 248 (right-hand column, first full paragraph).

Hypothetical Fact Pattern #2

Officer Stewart is investigating allegations that Tiny recently robbed a bank and is now planning a museum heist.  Before applying for a search warrant that will allow the police to search Tiny’s apartment, Officer Stewart must gather enough evidence to establish probable cause to search the apartment.  Officer Stewart sometimes has unusual theories about suspects.  He theorizes that, before committing a complex crime, would-be criminals often discuss the crime in detail with their friends via e-mail.  Recently, Officer Stewart surreptitiously followed Tiny to an Internet café that has several computers available for customer use.  Officer Stewart watched Tiny from afar for a couple of hours while Tiny used one of the computers.  After Tiny left the café, Officer Stewart checked the “history” on the computer’s Internet browser and learned that Tiny used the website.  Officer Stewart assumes that Tiny has a G-mail account and wants to read all e-mails that Tiny has sent or received in the past two years.  Officer Stewart contacts G-mail, a division of Google (a private company), to ask for Tiny’s G-mail account information (i.e., e-mail address, account password, dates and times of log-ins, etc.) and digital copies of all e-mails that Tiny has sent or received in the past two years.  Officer Stewart does not have a search warrant for obtaining such information, nor does he have a court order compelling G-mail to turn over the requested information.  Nonetheless, G-mail complies with his request by providing digital copies of the e-mails, along with Tiny’s G-mail account information.  Officer Stewart reads the e-mails, and several of them are incriminating.  Officer Stewart then obtains a search warrant and an arrest warrant.  The police arrest Tiny, and the prosecutor files a variety of criminal charges against him.  Tiny argues that his 4th Amendment rights have been violated.

Did G-mail violate the 4th Amendment by providing Tiny’s account information and digital copies of his e-mails?
Did Officer Stewart violate the 4th Amendment by following Tiny to the Internet café and watching from afar?  By looking at the browser “history” at the Internet café?  By obtaining the e-mails and account information from G-mail?

Explain your answers.  Discuss relevant concepts and case law.

Look over Katz v. U.S., U.S. v. Miller, and Smith v. Maryland (p. 55 - 59), which discuss privacy rights.  Think about how Tiny’s e-mails and G-mail account information are similar to or different from the kinds of personal information discussed in these case excerpts.  Are Tiny’s e-mails more like the checks in U.S. v. Miller, or are they more like the phone conversations in Katz v. U.S.?  Was the governmental action an impermissible search under the 4th Amendment?  (Remember:  A search is defined as “a governmental intrusion into an area in which an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”  The concurring opinion in Katz established the two-pronged expectation-of-privacy test that we use to determine whether an expectation of privacy is reasonable – and, thus, whether the government is intruding into an area that should remain private [p. 54].  If the individual’s expectation of privacy is not reasonable, then the governmental action likely does not constitute a search for purposes of the 4th Amendment.  However, if one finds that the individual’s expectation of privacy is reasonable and that the warrantless governmental action constitutes a search, one must then apply the two-pronged reasonableness test used to assess warrantless searches [p. 87].)

Additionally, look over the plain view doctrine (p. 68 - 69) and think about it in relation to Officer Stewart’s behavior at the Internet café.

Also, is an Internet café a “public place” for purposes of the 4th Amendment?  (Look over page 71.)

Organize your paper into two sections, each with its own heading (i.e., “Hypothetical Fact Pattern #1” and “Hypothetical Fact Pattern #2”).  The tone of your paper should be formal and academic, not conversational.  The paper must be clear, polished, and well organized. 

Full-credit analyses of Hypothetical Fact Pattern #1 will likely be only one or two paragraphs.  Full-credit analyses of Hypothetical Fact Pattern #2 will likely be at least two full pages in length.  The bulk of your grade on this paper will be determined by your response to Hypothetical Fact Pattern #2 (which is the more complex of the two scenarios).

In your responses, do not include a lengthy recitation of the facts of the hypotheticals.  Instead, mention the relevant facts when applying the law to those facts.

When writing your paper, do not copy verbatim (word-for-word) from the textbook.  Insofar as possible, use your own words.  Of course, I expect that you will use certain key phrases (or terms of art) when discussing the 4th Amendment.  For example, when you define a “search,” it is acceptable and appropriate to write about “a governmental intrusion into an area in which an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”  In such instances (which employ common definitions or phrases), you do not need to use quotation marks or cite page numbers.  However, if you want to quote the textbook at length, you must use quotation marks and parenthetically indicate the textbook page number.  For example, if you want to quote page 54 of the textbook when explaining the second prong of Katz’s expectation-of-privacy test, you might write,

The second prong asks “[w]hether the subjective expectation of privacy is reasonable -- that is, an expectation ‘that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable’” (54).

Here, the second prong could be easily expressed in your own words, but, if you choose to lift language from the textbook, you must use quotation marks.  Copying text from the Internet and/or failing to properly cite sources constitutes plagiarism, and I consider it a violation of NJCU’s academic integrity policy.

            When writing this paper, do not use any sources other than our textbook or the classnotes I distributed.  No outside research is allowed.


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Due By (Pacific Time) 10/24/2015 12:00 am
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