Terry Vs Dickerson Case Study

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Terry v. Ohio and Minnesota v. Dickerson are two cases that had a significant impact on search and seizures conducted by law enforcement. In Terry v. Ohio, a Cleveland detective working a routine patrol encountered two strangers acting suspiciously near a store window. One would walk to the store and stare in the window and then return to talk with the other on a corner nearby. After following them, he saw them meet up with a third man. He suspected that the three men were casing the store for a robbery and ordered all three into the store. While patting one of the men down outside of his clothing, he found a gun in his pocket. The detective had to remove the man’s coat to take the gun out. He seized the gun and patted the other men down, …show more content…

Dickerson involved two Minneapolis police officers on patrol on the northside of the city in an area where they had previously responded to drug complaints and executed several search warrants there. The building was a notorious drug den. They observed Dickerson leave the building and walk towards them. As soon as he realizes who they were, he stopped and began walking in the other direction. Then he walked into an alley on the other side of the apartment building. Based on these observations they stopped Dickerson and patted him down. The search didn’t reveal any weapons, but the officer did notice a small lump in his jacket and to him it felt like a lump of crack cocaine in cellophane. In the evidence suppression hearing, the trial court likened finding the crack cocaine to the “plain view” doctrine which allows officers to seize evidence of contraband in plain sight during a search for other items. Therefore, the evidence was admissible. Throughout the appeals of the case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed that the initial contact and pat down were valid under Terry, but seizing the cocaine was unconstitutional. “The court thus appeared to adopt a categorical rule barring the seizure of any contraband detected by an officer through the sense of touch during a patdown search for

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