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Maryland vs. King, Essay Example

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Essay

In the Supreme Court case of Maryland v. King, Justice John Roberts granted the state of Maryland a stay–temporarily upholding the State of Maryland’s ruling that DNA collected during an arrest, even without a felony conviction is not a Fourth Amendment violation of unwarranted search and seizure.

Alonzo King was arrested for first and second-degree assault in Mayland, and concurrent with their state laws, gave a DNA sample upon arrest. This law was only supposed to apply to people convicted of felonies. Mr. King was ultimately convicted of a lesser crime, considered a less severe misdemeanor in the Maryland.

His DNA and fingerprints, however, had already been collected and entered into government database. Month’s later Mr. King’s DNA popped up as a match to an unsolved rape case.

Mr. King was arrested, tried, and convicted based on this evidence in the lower court, where his motion to suppress the DNA evidence as an unwarranted search and seizure was not accepted. The State of Maryland affirmed that the collection of DNA evidence was no more warrantless or invasive than the fingerprinting process, which becomes public record upon arrest as it was already. The State argued for the MDCA as a whole, stating that it was no different than existing fingerprinting databases already being used.

In addition, the State made a very compelling argument for the need for such a database as a whole. They were able to empirically claim in the Maryland Supreme Court that the MDCA was necessary for the well being of things such as national security.

However, on the basis of the Fourth Amendment, the case was granted certiorari, and the case moved on to the United States Supreme Court. On the basis of national security, as well as the infinite improvements the State made the argument the MDCA offered law enforcement, the Supreme Court granted stay until oral arguments could be heard.

In the Maryland State Supreme Court, King’s side was not only calling the DNA evidence used against him was a Fourth Amendment violation against unwarranted search, but that the original collection itself was also such a violation. This called into the constitutionality of the MDCA as well, the act that completely allowed for the DNA evidence to be collected in the first place.

Whether the MDCA is deemed unconstitutional or not, there is still the opinion held by King that because he was never convicted of a felony that would have warranted the taking of a DNA sample, that this should be suppressed as an original Constitutional violation on the part of law enforcement.

The stay means the MDCA stays in effect as a constitutional law, until any argument is established by the Court to the contrary. This, in the words of Justice Alito, is perhaps the most important Supreme Court case in generations, due to the implications with regards to civil liberties.

There are some cases that will most certainly be used by the majority–other cases have affirmed law enforcement’s unwarranted intervention in the past, namely Samson v. California, where it affirmed law enforcement right to unwarranted search on parolees.

For the defense, there is US v. Katz, which involved the warrantless tapping of a payphone to obtain a conviction. Mr. Katz was able, in this case, to establish an invasion into his privacy.

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