Was Atwater v. Lago Vista Decided Correctly? The Fourth Amendment's Shadow and Simulacra of Police Brutality and the American Dream

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Atwater v. Lago Vista is a stand-alone case in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Often basic Fourth Amendment jurisprudence builds off other case law.

There is a clear buildup regarding the exclusionary rule from Weeks v. United States (1914) to Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States (1920) to the expansion of “the fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine to Mapp v. Ohio (1961) incorporating U.S. Constitution the Fourth Amendment to the states. Likewise, there are cases building up from the incorporation into the states from United States v. Leon (1984) to Arizona v. Evans (1995), expanding Fourth Amendment case law and rights.

The cavalcade of these cases somewhat plays a ballet of expanding and contracting the rights in certain circumstances. But the rights build off and limit each other in a cognizable method. Atwater v. Lago Vista is not based on such a cavalcade of cases.

It is a stand-alone case at best citing 1600s case law, norms, and rules from before the founding of the United States. Granted, the United States adopted much of the English jurisprudence in the founding of the United States.

Although Atwater does not deal with the exclusionary rule, the case law of the exclusionary rule depicts how Fourth Amendment Supreme Court cases build on top of oneanother. Atwater does not. It is a stand-alone case in the jurisprudence neither adhering nor not adhering to the principles of stare decisis. This article first summarizes the facts of the Atwater v. Lago Vista case and comments on the social and cultural implications of such facts. Then the article lays out the procedural posture of the Atwater case.

Thereafter, this article examines the unique legal reasoning of the case suggesting that the case was incorrectly decided. After discussing the Atwater case, the article explores how subsequent case law interpreted and cited the Atwater case. Finally, the article concludes with the implications of Atwater, its progeny, and what this case means for future case law.
Originele taal-2English
TijdschriftBarry Law Review
Volume28
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
StatusPublished - 9-mei-2023

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