Assignment 2: Landmark Cases

The case known as Terry v. Ohio (1968) is a good example of a Fourth Amendment case.

Read about this case by starting with your text to get the background and then read the “syllabus” of the case, which you can find here. This will give you the basic background of the case as well as the Court’s decisions on the matter.

You will see that the Court was asked to determine whether the police acted properly in this case, by conducting a search of a “suspicious” person, without that person’s permission.

Keep in mind what we discussed in previous weeks about the balance between personal freedoms and security. You should be able to recognize how this case presents an example of the conflict between freedoms and security. Should the police have the power to do a “pat down” search of a suspicious person?

In a 4- to 6-page Microsoft Word report, address the following points:

  • Briefly explain the circumstances of the case. What happened in this case?
  • Identify the controversy involved in the case. What was the issue the Supreme Court needed to resolve?
  • Identify which amendment(s) were involved in this case and explain. (In other words, don’t just say, “This was a Fourth Amendment case” or “This was a Fifth Amendment case.” Explain why you believe that to be true.)
  • Describe the outcome of the case and summarize the Supreme Court’s reasoning for its decision.
  • After you have addressed those points, explain how this case relates to the “stop-and-frisk” issue that you investigated in the Week 3 project.
  • Lastly, briefly describe how a sixteen-year-old juvenile who was stopped, frisked, and arrested would be handled by the police and court as his or her case is processed. Pay particular attention to the “language” of the system.


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