Monday, April 21, 2014

The New York Court of Appeals: Recent Search and Seizure Jurisprudence

By Mackenzie Keane Plaske
Mackenzie is currently a first-year associate at the law firm of Iseman, Cunningham, Riester & Hyde, LLP in Albany, New York, practicing primarily in the field of health care. She graduated magna cum laude from Albany Law School in May 2013.
While at Albany Law, Mackenzie participated in the Health Law Clinic and was a teaching assistant for Civil Procedure, Torts and Criminal Law.  Additionally, she was a Finalist in the Domenick L. Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Competition.  As a member of the Albany Law Review, she also served as Executive Editor for New York Appeals during her third year.
This paper was prepared for the State Constitutional Adjudication Seminar, Spring 2013. It is Mackenzie's second publication for the Center. (See The New York State Court of Appeals and the Exclusionary Rule: From the Kaye Court to the Lippman Court, March 5, 2012.)

The line between reasonable and unreasonable searches and seizures has proven difficult to delineate. Courts are unable to dictate with particularity when a search or seizure would be permissible or impermissible, because each situation calling for such an analysis presents unique facts and circumstances.

When interpreting and rendering decisions on search and seizure, the Court of Appeals may ground its opinions upon independent state constitutional grounds. Unlike other states, such as Florida, New York has not adopted a lockstep approach to constitutional analysis. Therefore, the Court of Appeals is free to provide more constitutional protection than that provided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that is exactly what the Court of Appeals has done.

Sometimes, but not always, the Court’s decisions align with those of the U.S. Supreme Court. But, whichever way the decisions fall, the Court of Appeals cites its substantial interest in protecting the rights of the citizens of New York State.

This paper will explore some of the recent Court of Appeals decisions involving search and seizure rights that fall within the ambit of New York State Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.
To read the paper, open HERE.