The Case Of Mapp Versus Ohio Law Essay

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This is a landmark, history changing case that A.L. Kearns, and Walter L. Green who represented Miss Mapp as the Appellant (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). Gertrude Bauer Mahon and John T. Corrigan argued the cause for the appellee in this case which is the State of Ohio (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). Miss Mapp sought an appellate court to review the case on the ground that the trial court judge made a mistake. In this case Miss Mapp (the losing party) and her attorneys sought a writ of certiorari for the United States Supreme Court to review the case. After a successful petition, Miss Mapp's attorneys directed the Court of Appeals to send up the trial court transcript, motion papers, and assorted legal documents to the United States Supreme Court. The citation to the case of Mapp v. Ohio is 367 U.S. 643, appeal from the Supreme Court of Ohio citation no. 236 (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961).

The U.S Constitution is always at attacked, and deceived by the many men and women who take an oath to protect it. Throughout many decades we have seen piles and piles of cases built up that challenge the freedom and rights of our people built by the Constitution. When our founding Fathers created the Constitution, they gave every American citizen rights to be protected. They gave us the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We are also protected the Bill of Rights that's places limitations on government control over the people of the United States. In this case, we will see how the very police, who are supposed to protect and serve the public and keep our communities safe, have taken advantage of their authority and ignored procedural law. This case also involves the Fourth Amendment to protect against unreasonable search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment provides:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or Affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized (Scheb & Scheb II, 2008)."

In Cleveland Ohio on May 23, 1957, three police officers arrived at the Miss Mapp's home of residence after they had received information that a person who was wanted in question about being involved in a recent bombing was hiding out at her home (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). It was also indicated that there was a lot of policy paraphernalia being stored in the home (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). The appellant, Miss Mapp occupied the two-family private residence with her daughter but lived on the top floor (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). When arriving at the house of Miss Mapp, the officers knocked at the door and demanded access but the appellant, after telephoning her attorney, refused them entry without first seeking a search warrant (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). After not being allowed to enter the home, the police officer advised headquarters of the circumstances and they began supervision of the appellant's house (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961).

Three hours had passed by and officers once again they pushed for and required entrance into the house, this time with four other officers in attendance (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). As she had declined before, Miss Mapp still did not consent to them entering so they proceeded to enter anyway by force (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). Soon after the police gained access to the house, the appellant's attorney showed up at the scene but was not allowed contact with his client (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). The officers also refused his demand to see the search warrant that would legally grant them entrance to her place of abode. (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). Why was the attorney not able to have access to his attorney? Even though she was not arrested, he was still at the scene wanting to speak to his client. It troubles me as to why he was not allowed access to her.

Miss Mapp, the appellant began to question the officers about the warrant and insisted that she wanted to see it because she did not feel that the officers had a warrant in their possession, and that they were being devious. (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). Miss Mapp thought that the officers were being deceitful and corrupt. The officer who claimed to have the warrant flashed a piece of paper in her face, at which point the Miss Mapp then grabbed and stuffed it into her shirt (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). She did not grab it in order to destroy the supposed warrant but she thought it was a simple piece of paper that they claimed to be a warrant, and they would let her see it so she knew they were in her house unlawfully. Miss Mapp began to struggle with the officers and eventually the officers recovered the piece of paper, and as a consequence, they handcuffed Miss Mapp because she was being aggressive and uncontrollable. (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). In handcuffs, the appellant was taken to the upstairs and into her bedroom where the officers proceeded to search a dresser, a chest of drawers, a closet and a suitcase (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). They also looked into a photo album and went through personal papers and documentation belonging to the Miss Mapp (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). As the police proceeded with their search of the house they discovered a trunk in the basement (Cooke, 2002). When the officers opened the trunk they found materials they considered to be obscene (Cooke, 2002). They confiscated all the materials and charged Miss Mapp, the appellant, with the possession of obscene material, and took her into custody (Cooke, 2002). Now from this moment I was not able to find information about where her attorney was at that time and what part he was able to play in the immediate process. Another thing that has been floating around in my head, and thinking as a defense attorney, how did they know that the materials belonged to her? She lived on the top floor of the house and the trunk was in the basement. What is she had someone staying with her and upon leaving forgot to take this trunk with them. The officers treated Miss Mapp as though she was guilty even before she was wrongfully convicted in a trial court.


Miss Mapp was indicted on the charge and went to trial; but there was never a search warrant provided to the court that the police claimed that had in order to forcefully gain entry into Miss Mapp's home (Cooke, 2002). Despite this, the evidence obtained illegally was presented during the case, and the reasoning for this was that Miss Mapp did not have the protection from the exclusionary rule as stated in the case of Wolf v. Colorado (Cooke, 2002). The court held, "that in a prosecution in a State court for a State crime the Fourteenth Amendment does not forbid the admission of evidence obtained by an unreasonable search and seizure" (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). The Fourteenth amendment allocates other amendments to be applied to the states through the process of selective incorporation (Cooke, 2002).

The due process clauses in the constitution had been applied to states through selective incorporation (Cooke, 2002). It bothers me that her due process rights were not taken into consideration, and were only considered. Miss Mapp had the right to a fair trial. Unfortunately, in this case the exclusionary rule had not yet been integrated which meant that citizens did have the rights against search and seizures but there was no way to enforce these constitutional rights, or reprimand those who have dishonored those rights (Cooke, 2002). So the issue in this case is whether or not the obscene material attained during the search and seizure was a violation of the Fourth Amendment and if it would be admissible in court without a valid warrant, or if the United States Supreme Court would overturn the decision against Miss Mapp (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). Also it will be important for the state of Ohio, if the ruling was reversed, to understand why they had violated Miss Mapp's rights and protections, and why they allowed the trial and conviction to hold knowing that there was not a warrant to enter her home.


The United States Supreme Court reversed the verdict of the Ohio State Supreme Court noting that, "constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed….It is the duty of the courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon" (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). All evidence collected in searches and seizures in violations of the Federal Constitution is inadmissible in a criminal trial in a state court (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). Were the trial judges in the Ohio courts unaware of this, or were they protecting the authority of the officers that were involved in this case?


Mr. Justice Clark delivered the opinion of the court. He stated specifically dealing with the use of evidence unconstitutionally seized. The Court concluded:

"If letters and private documents can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen accused of an offense, the protection of the Fourth Amendment declaring his right to be secure against such searches and seizures is of no value, and, so far as those thus placed are concerned, might as well be stricken from the Constitution. The efforts of the courts and their officials to bring the guilty to punishment, praiseworthy as they are, are not to be aided by the sacrifice of those great principles established by years of endeavor and suffering which have resulted in their embodiment in the fundamental law of the land." (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961).

It was furthermore stated by the Court that the Fourth Amendment puts the courts of the United States and Federal officials, in their exercise of their supremacy and authority, under limitations and restraints (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). It is difficult to understand that this case made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, these seem like simple rules that were just disregarded.

Separate Opinions

Justice Clark illistrated that the materials were without a doubt introduced into evidence for the prosecution for the appellant, and were indeed obtained in illegal search and seizure (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). Officers broke down the entrance to Miss Mapp's house and entered to find the lewd materials and violated state law (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). While searching the house the officers participated in physical altercations with Miss Mapp and then detained her (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). A Fourth Amendment violation would have occurred if the appellant was detained immediately as the officers entered the premises, and asked her to point out and locate the materials in question (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). The breach of "personal security and personal liberty" is the core of a Fourth Amendment violation (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). Justices Black and Douglas concur (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005).

The dissenting opinion was written by Justice Harlan who was united by Justices Frankfurter and Whittaker (U.S. Supreme Court Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S 643 (1961), 1961). They stated that an issue of legality can be recognized by observing whether or not a Fourteenth Amendment violation also occurred in this case (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). The Fourteenth Amendment grants the same rights as the Fourth Amendment to the citizens of each state and prevents the state from taking action against them if there is a clear case of due process violation. (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). A violation of this basic principal would provide for a violation of the Fourth, or Fourteenth Amendments, and any evidence seized would not be permissible in a court of law, as covered by the exclusionary rule, regardless of the legality of evidence (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). " In fact one can take it a step further and say that it is a violation of the Federal Constitution to incite fear into people by making them believe that Big Brother is watching their every move" (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005). The violation of this basic principle would provide for a violation of the Fourteenth and Fourth Amendments, which would conclude that any evidence seized would not be allowed in court, as covered by the exclusionary rule, regardless of the legality of the evidence (Case Brief: Mapp v. Ohio, 2005).


The case involving Miss Mapp has cemented the ways, as well as changed the ways cases are handled in courts today when dealing with the Fourth Amendent rights and issues regarding exclusionary rules. Now police are restricted by the exclusionary rule which will not allow them to seize evidence and admit it into evidence if seized illegally, and provide them with procedural restraints on gaining evidence. If officers are really truly trying to bring a case against someone they are going to follow proper procedures in order to garentee evidence will be admissible.What I thought was troubling was that when the attorney for Miss Mapp arrived on location he was denied access to his client. The exclusionary rule is a judicially created rule that prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence in a criminal prosecution of the persons whose right were violated by the police in obtaining that evidence (Scheb & Scheb II, 2008).

"In 1914, in the case of Weeks v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court first held that evidence obtained through an unlawful search and seizure could not be used to convict a person of a federal crime" (Scheb & Scheb II, 2008). The rationale is to deter illegal searches and seizures by police and with the effect of enforcing constitutional requirements (Scheb & Scheb II, 2008). This case of Mapp v. Ohio and decision has an immediate effect throughout the country. For example, in New York City, officers did not worry about obtaining a search warrant prior to the newly set precedent of Mapp, but the year after the judgment, officers were on their game getting warrants and obtained more than eight hundred search warrants to seize evidence (Scheb & Scheb II, 2008). "In the case of Wong Sun v. United States, a new doctrine which was implemented was that any evidence seized illegally without a warrant would be fruit of the poisonous tree and would inadmissible" (Scheb & Scheb II, 2008). The exclusionary rule is justified by the need to deter police misconduct (Scheb & Scheb II, 2008).

This case had a special interest to me because I am from Ohio, and writing this paper has given me not only more knowledge on the rights of each individual provided by Fourth Amendment, but has allowed me to understand other cases that were affected by this precedent. At the time this judgment was reversed by the United States Supreme Court, I can't help but think about what Miss Mapp had thought about changing history throughout the country, and how this case is one of the most important landmark decisions.