Can the Police Use Evidence They Got Illegally? | Mapp v. Ohio


Mr. Beat presents Supreme Court Briefs Cleveland, Ohio
May 23, 1957 Someone sets a bomb off at Don King’s house. Yep, that Don King, the future boxer promoter who at the time was a controversial bookie who had many enemies. So yeah, apparently one of those enemies was whoever bombed his house that day. The Cleveland police got a tip that a another bookie named Virgil Ogletree might have been involved with the bombing, and that he was hiding out in the house of Dollree Mapp. They also suspected stuff to make a bomb might be at the house. Three Cleveland police officers get to Mapp’s house, knock on the door and she answers. They ask to enter, but Mapp says “you gotta warrant?” After the police say no, she refuses to let them in. Two of the officers leave, but one hangs out across the street to stake out the place. Three hours later, even more officers return and knock on her door. This time Mapp doesn’t answer, and they break down the door and enter without permission. Mapp asks again to see a warrant. One of the officers shows her a piece of paper that is supposedly the warrant. She snatches the paper and puts it in her blouse. The officer reaches inside her clothing and she resists while he tries to get it back. He eventually does it get it back, and that piece of paper is never seen again. The police handcuffed Mapp and continued to search her home. They did find Ogletree, who later was cleared of being connected to the bombing, but while they were looking for him they also found evidence of illegal gambling, a pistol, and a small collection of sexually explicit materials that a previous resident had left behind. The Cleveland police arrested Mapp for having the gambling stuff but was later cleared. However, she didn’t cooperate with authorities very well, and several months later they turned around and charged her with having the sexually explicit materials, which apparently was illegal in Ohio at the time. Illegal, Mr. Beat? Yes, in 1957 it was illegal to possess “obscene materials.” Mapp was found guilty and sentenced to up to seven years in prison. Mapp appealed to the Ohio Court of Appeals for the Eighth District, arguing that the Ohio law banning the possession of obscene material went against the First Amendment. But what about the Fourth Amendment, Mr. Beat? Well, surprisingly, the Fourth Amendment wasn’t Mapp’s focus, but she could have also said that the police broke the Fourth Amendment when they searched through her stuff. Specifically, the police had no probable cause to suspect her of having the sexually explicit books, and they couldn’t use the books as evidence in court because they were found without a warrant. In addition, Mapp could have argued to get the 4th Amendment applied to both the state and local level, not just the federal level. The Ohio Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court, so Mapp appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. They also agreed, so she appealed to the Supreme uh Supreme Court. By this time, 4 years had passed since the police had raided Mapp’s home. The Court heard oral arguments on March 29, 1961. It was soon apparent that the Court didn’t give a darn about the First Amendment…in this case. Lemme finish. They didn’t give a darn about the First Amendment IN THIS CASE. Instead, they were all focused on the 4th amendment. You see, there was this law called the exclusionary rule. The exclusionary rule said you couldn’t use evidence if the police got it illegally. It had been applied since 1914 in the ruling for the case Weeks v. United States, but only at the federal level. In the 1949 decision Wolf v. Colorado, the Court had declined to extend exclusionary protections at the state level. On June 19, 1961, the Court announced its decision. They voted 6-3, in favor of Mapp, overturning her conviction. The reason? Not because of the First Amendment. Because of the Fourth Amendment. The police did not have a valid warrant, and so the Court threw out any evidence the Cleveland police got that day in May of 1957 when they raided Mapp’s home. They couldn’t use any of it. So yeah, the Court expanded the exclusionary rule to the state level, saying the 14th Amendment gave them the authority to do so. Mapp v. Ohio was really a win for the Fourth Amendment, though. It really put the 4th Amendment back on the map. Ha! Get it? Back on the map? And her name was Mapp? I don’t know why I’m a history teacher when clearly I should be a comedian. Anyway, people later called Dolly Mapp the “Rosa Parks of the Fourth Amendment.” Justice Tom Clark wrote the opinion. “The state, by admitting evidence unlawfully seized, serves to encourage disobedience to the federal Constitution which it is bound to uphold. Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.” Oh snap Justice Clark. So yeah, more than anything, this case was a win for privacy. So whatever happened to Dolly Mapp? Well, she later was arrested for theft and dealing heroin. During her 10 years in prison, however, she became an activist for prisoner rights, especially for reducing sentences for drug offenses. After she was released from prison, she used all of her experience with courts to work for a nonprofit organization that gave legal help to inmates. I’ll see you for the next Supreme Court case, jury! You know, this case got me thinking… Which of the Bill of Rights do you think is most under attack right now? I think it’s the 4th Amendment, obviously. That’s why I brought up the question. But let me know in the comments below. And a shout out to a couple people this episode. First, my newest Patreon supporter, Matthew Clarke, Another Matthew in the house. Matthew Club, yes. Thank you for your support, Matthew. Also a shout out to my student. He’s in guitar club with me. He wrote an original song, providing the backing music for this episode. So a shout out to Isaac. Great job, Isaac! Thanks for watching.




Comments
  1. The second is under a harsh and persistent attack by a number of lobbying groups. Unfortunately, the right to bear arms is one of the hardest natural rights to defend (despite the fact that it safeguards the rest of our rights).

  2. Wait, doesn't porn fall under the First Amendment? Is there a Supreme Court case that falls in favor of pornography as protected under the First Amendment (besides Miller v. California or Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson)?

  3. Would say that the 1st amendment is the one must publically attacked by the population, but the government itself would be more likely to go after the forth.

  4. For the amendments most under attack, I would say the 2nd and 4th. At least SCOTUS is hearing a lot of cases on the 4th though. Hopefully, the 4th is restored with the Carpenter case this term. I love and agree wholeheartedly with Gorsuch's property rights interpretation(essentially he said the records belonged to Carpenter and therefore required a warrant, rather than a privacy interpretation). Interesting how the 18th and 19th century interpretation fits our modern technological world better than the 20th century one.
    For the 2nd, hopefully, SCOTUS hears more cases on the 2A because it seems like it's treating it as a 2nd class right

  5. Nice job! I think I'm going to show this to my civics class since we have end-of-course exams coming up.

  6. Hey, I'd Really Appreciate To See A Vid About No Child Left Behind In Detail. Btw Your Vids Are Good,Keep It Up

  7. Thanks for the videos! I'm not sure what else to say but they are definitely fun (if a bit cheesy at times) and they have definitely helped me learn more about all these supreme court cases!

  8. Thanks Mr. Beat! I'm not an American and have never been to the states, but I still watch all of your videos because you make learning fun! It's always interesting to compare US cases to cases in other countries to see the difference in principals, values and approaches to legal issues. Thanks again Mr Beat – you're amazing! Much love from around the world!

  9. Another great summary of things.
    Just out of curiosity, have you done any research on Conn. vs. Teal?

  10. Hey Mr. Beat, I know this is Supreme Court Briefs. But may you cover the case Engblom v. Carey?

  11. If you want to be really technical, almost all of the amendments in some way have been broken by the US at some point in time. I’d say most recently the first, second, and fourth amendments are most under attack right now

  12. The Police officer put his hand down the woman's clothes???? Why was he not charged with sexual assault??

  13. 2:48 This image shows both sides to the case.. The Mapp and Ohio. I think Ohio is too small to beat the Mapp.

  14. Did all the accused people from the Supreme Court briefs actually spent their time in jail until they had the opportunity for their appeal? I mean apparently it’s not unusual to wait several years until the lower decisions become overturned

  15. How the hell does this have anything to do with the first amendment? Straight forward illegal search and seize from the start,

  16. "Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than . . . its disregard of the charter of its own existence." . . . Oh snap, indeed, Justice Clark!!!

  17. This was amazing! I'm a Sophomore in high school and am taking a Criminal Investigation course. I have to write a paper on a search and seizure case and turned to YouTube since I learn better visually and not by reading. This broke everything down into things I could better understand to put into a paper, while still going into great detail. Thank you Mr. Beat, and I will be subscribing! 🙂

  18. The exclusionary rule is a wholly fabricated contrivance of the Supreme Court with no anchoring in the Constitution, and Mapp was wrongly decided by a horrible, leftist Court.

  19. This is why American politics are so much cooler than British politics. We’re all about the constitution, and amendments, and the Supreme Court, they don’t have none of that!

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