Bill Lawrence


search and seizure, Fourth Amendment, criminal procedure


The issue this Note addresses is whether a police officer, during a routine traffic stop, violates a person's Fourth Amendment rights when the officer's questions stray from the original reason for the stop. Resolution of the issue pits privacy concerns against the state's interest in effective law enforcement. With circuits split over the issue, and the Supreme Court not yet plainly ruling on it, this Note aims to provide a narrow solution to the problem.Part I explains the Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard and discusses the line of Supreme Court cases from Terry v. Ohio14 to Florida v. Bostick 5 that deal with the permissible scope of questioning during a stop. Part II introduces the split between the Fifth and Seventh Circuits and the Eighth, Ninth, and, Tenth Circuits, highlighting the reasoning of the Seventh Circuit in United States v. Childs. 6 Further, Part II discusses the balance between privacy concerns and effective law enforcement and shows that the arguments are important because the Supreme Court has not yet directly ruled on the issue." Part III of this Note proposes that courts consider the narrow holding in Childs. This Note concludes that in the routine traffic stop situation, effective police work outweighs the minimal privacy interest.



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