Assignment 5 Answers

Ch. 5

1. Police officers rent a motel room adjoining Mary Wanna’s room and conduct surveillance of her conversations by pressing their ears against the common wall. The walls are thin and they are able to hear everything Mary says. Does this violate the Fourth Amendment? Explain. 10pts

In United States v. Jackson, the Supreme Court ruled there was nothing unusual about officers pressing their ears against the wall of the adjoining room because the officers were using nothing more than their normal powers of hearing, in a motel room that they rented. The court stated that a suspect who carries on a conversation in a motel room, aware that the walls are thin and neighbors are just a few feet away, has no constitutional grounds for complaint if a police officer in the next room is listening therefore Mary Wanna’s Fourth Amendment rights have not been violated.

2.Police officers rent a motel room adjoining Mary Wanna’s room to conduct surveillance of her conversations but this time the walls are too thick for them to hear. They pay a motel cleaning lady to go into her room, listen as she cleans, and report back every word she hears. She reports back a highly incriminating conversation she overheard. Does this violate the Fourth Amendment? Explain. 10pts

The Hoffa doctrine states that “defendants have no constitutionally protected privacy interest in information they knowingly disclose to a third party.” The cleaning lady was in Mary Wanna’s hotel room by invitation. Despite she was paid by officers, every conversation which she heard was knowingly carried on in her presence. Therefore, the use of the cleaning lady was not a violation of Mary Wanna’s Fourth Amendment rights.

3. Does requiring airline passengers to undergo magnetometer screening and have their carry-on luggage x-rayed before boarding a plane involve a search? Why are individualized suspicion and a search warrant not required? Explain both answers. 10pts

Screening procedures that reveal information about the presence of innocent objects concealed from public view are unquestionably a search. Searches conducted as a part of a general regulatory scheme in furtherance of an administrative purpose, such as prevention of terrorist attacks using planes, re permissible under the Fourth Amendment without individualized suspicion when the government’s need to conduct the search exceeds the invasion of privacy which the search entails. The need for the searches in airports to prevent hijackings outweighs the relatively limited intrusion of having to pass through an airport security checkpoints before boarding.

4.When are email, voice mail, and text messages protected by the Wiretap Act? The Stored Wire and Electronic Communications and Transactional Records Act? What is necessary to obtain access to email during the first 180 days of storage? After 180 days? 10pts

For the Wiretap Act to be applied to an email, the email must be intercepted, access to the contents must be acquired during the transmission stage of the email being sent. Once an email reaches its intended destination it becomes a stored communication. Access to stored communications, such as email after arrival, voicemail, and text messages, are regulated through the Stored Wire and Electronic Communications and Transactional Records Act. Stored communications have less protection compared to items that are intercepted. The Stored Communications Act prohibits electronic communication service providers from voluntarily divulging stored communications. It also details procedures law enforcement officials must follow to compel disclosure of stored communications. During the first 180 days, officials can access electronic communications only through a conventional search warrant stating probable cause. After 180 days, whether a notice is given to the subscribers or not, disclosure can be compelled through an administrative subpoena, grand jury subpoena or court order, based on...
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