Cover image for The intruders : unreasonable searches and seizures from King John to John Ashcroft
The intruders : unreasonable searches and seizures from King John to John Ashcroft
Dash, Samuel.
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Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
172 pages ; 23 cm
The legend of the Magna Carta -- Wilkes and liberty -- A flame of fire -- The plate-glass duty fraud case -- The exclusionary rule -- The case of the "Whispering wires" -- Dolly Mapp -- Smothering the flame -- War on terror : security and liberty.
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KF9630 .D37 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What led to the Fourth Amendment's protection of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures, codified in written law for the first time in history, and are we in danger of losing that protection? Celebrated lawyer Samuel Dash, known for his role as Chief Counsel of the Watergate Committee, explores the struggle for privacy. He does so by telling the dramatic tales of the people who were involved in influential legal battles, including landmark Supreme Court cases.

Covering almost eight-hundred years of history, Dash begins with the time of King John of England and the Magna Carta, then moves to colonial America as colonists resisted searches mandated under King George. These tensions contributed to the birth of the United States and the adoption of our Bill of Rights with its Fourth Amendment, protecting people against unreasonable searches and seizures.

How effective that protection has been is the story of the next two centuries. Dash explores U.S. Supreme Court cases through the sometimes humorous experiences of the people involved, including the unlucky gambler with a shoplifting wife and the police lieutenant turned king of bootleggers. To some extent, judicial safeguarding of Fourth Amendment protections depended on who made up the majority of the Court at any given time.

By 2001 a conservative majority of the Court had given law enforcement agents greater search powers than ever before. Dash challenges the legal justification of the Bush Administration's grab for greater search, seizure, and wiretap powers after the 9/11 terrorists' attacks. He reminds us of government abuses of power in prior emergencies in American history. For Dash, the best security is our belief in individual liberty and the enforcement of our Bill of Rights.

Author Notes

Samuel Dash, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, is a leading lawyer and scholar in constitutional criminal justice and professional responsibility. He is best known for his work as chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Watergate Committee, which led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. He lives in Washington, DC

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dash is well suited to discuss the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures now a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, he was chief counsel to the Senate committee that investigated Watergate, a scandal in which President Nixon was accused of violating just that guarantee. And he agrees with Nixon's aide John Ehrlichman on one point that this right "has been considerably eroded" in the last few decades, most recently by the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act. Yet, as Dash points out, such struggles have existed from the time of the Magna Carta. With a lawyer's zeal for complex argument and detail, Dash looks at 18th-century England, for example, where the court convicted a printer and writer named John Wilkes based on the illegal seizure of many of his private papers; by the time a judge overturned the verdict on appeal, Wilkes had died from catching pneumonia in prison. More recently, Dash tells of Dollree Mapp, an African-American woman whose apartment was forcibly searched in 1957 by a police sergeant who said, "We didn't think we needed [a warrant]." Dash traces the erosion of the exclusionary rule (which says illegally obtained evidence must be excluded in court) by the Supreme Court under Warren Burger. The USA Patriot Act, Dash says, "dangerously eliminates" citizens' protection against government surveillance. These issues have been, and will continue to be, debated by civil libertarians. Dash has the authority to bring the discussion to a larger audience, and his ideas will no doubt be much discussed in the media. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

The Patriot Act is not the first law to threaten individual privacy and personal security. Efforts to restrain illegal government searches are the subject of this brief and lively book written by former Senate Watergate chief counsel, the late Sam Dash. Dash charts the history of what would become the Fourth Amendment, the exclusionary rule, and limits on government searches. Chapter 1 begins with the Magna Carta, describing how restrictions forced on King John by the English barons would eventually become the basis of the Fourth Amendment. Subsequent chapters describe how the judiciary gradually gave meaning to this amendment, culminating with the 1960s Warren Court efforts to enforce the exclusionary rule against the police at both the federal and state levels. However, as chapter 8 documents, President Nixon and the law enforcement community played on fears of crime to weaken the law such that the amendment now has little practical application, with the Patriot Act simply representing the latest threat to individual liberty that must be opposed. An excellent book on the history of the Fourth Amendment and illegal searches. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. D. Schultz Hamline University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. 1
Chapter 1 The Legend of the Magna Cartap. 11
Chapter 2 Wilkes and Libertyp. 26
Chapter 3 A Flame of Firep. 36
Chapter 4 The Plate-Glass Duty Fraud Casep. 46
Chapter 5 The Exclusionary Rulep. 57
Chapter 6 The Case of the "Whispering Wires"p. 72
Chapter 7 Dolly Mappp. 93
Chapter 8 Smothering the Flamep. 105
Chapter 9 War on Terror: Security and Libertyp. 132
Notesp. 153
Indexp. 165