Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Arizona Supreme Court: The Honey Badger of State Constitutional Analysis

Grace Mellen, a third year law student at Albany Law School, graduated magna cum laude from SUNY Cortland with a degree in Political Science and a minor in History. Presently, she interns with The Honorable David A. Weinstein at the New York State Court of Claims. She has also interned with the New York State Office of the Attorney General. Grace is also a Senior Editor for the Center for Judicial Process.
Grace prepared this paper for Professor Bonventre’s State Constitutional Adjudication seminar, spring 2013.

Since the United States Supreme Court (“U.S. Supreme Court”) handed down the landmark Terry v. Ohio decision in 1968, permitting warrantless stop and frisks based on reasonable suspicion, the issue of search and seizure has been unsettled as states determine how to reconcile the Terry decision with their own constitutions.

Some states, such as Illinois, are comfortable applying the standards of the U.S. Supreme Court to their own constitution, as long as there is no glaring language or legislative history that would force them to do otherwise. Other states, such as New Jersey and Washington, have interpreted their constitutions to offer their citizens more protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, arguing that the provisions within their state constitutions mandate this enhanced protection.

This paper will examine whether the Arizona Supreme Court has chosen to follow the parameters established by U.S. Supreme Court under the Fourth Amendment to resolve search and seizure issues, or if they instead rely on the Arizona State Constitution as their guide. To do this, five cases involving search and seizure issues from 2004 to 2012 will be analyzed. In order to see if the Court follows a clear method of state constitutional analysis, this paper will consider whether the Court relies on the Arizona State Constitution or precedent from the Supreme Court of Arizona.

This paper will also examine whether the Court expands protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, or if it has merely followed the federal parameters set out by the U.S. Supreme Court.
To read the entire paper, open HERE.