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Due Process Revolution Essay, Research Paper

The great promise of America that has made a British colony in the 50 States today is Freedom. Many Freedoms which still today cause people to flock to the United States. The history of these freedoms starts centuries ago and has developed, revolutionized, and persisted all the way through today. At the core of these Freedoms is the idea of Due Process, the idea that everyone has rights and freedom until they are deprived of them arbitrarily, or by the will of a just third party. Due process has been the most powerful force in American Criminal Justice since its creation and development. It has caused many people to win over the overwhelming odds in court cases and has presided over many righteous decisions that still affect cases today. Due process has also divided the country as public order advocates or individual rights supporters.

The Development of Due Process is conceived from four important documents, the Magna Charta, The Declaration of Independence, The Declaration of Rights and Grievances, and the U.S. Constitution. The Magna Charta was an English document that gave citizens rights and protection from their ruling body, which in that case was the King of England. The Magna Charta was used by the U.S. to create the Bill of Rights, a part of the Constitution. The Declaration of Rights and Grievances, drafted in 1765, was the original document created by the colonies of their complaints against the crown. The British unfair trials amongst other tragedies were to be fought with Due Process and the creation of other laws to clear the complaints of the current system. This would lead to the start of the Revolutionary War, in 1775. From the aforementioned documents, we would derive the concept of Due Process, the idea that people should have the right to be fairly heard and tried in court before losing life, liberty, or justice. Due process also limits the government’s ability to make laws, ensuring that they are fair and proper. The idea of Due Process and the American Criminal Justice system was furthered again with the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in 1776. The Constitution, the document known as the supreme law of the land included Bill of Rights, which were the first ten amendments discussing the freedoms and procedures to protect those freedoms in America. The fourth amendment applied specifically to Due Process, stating “,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.” This secured peoples right to be searched and violated by raids, but at the same time created great controversy in what was to be probably cause, an idea that would be developed and modified many times throughout history. The Fifth Amendment also supported due process in giving any citizen the right against self incrimination. Before their life, liberty, or freedom could be taken away someone other than their selves had to be a witness to their crime or have evidence to convict them. Before this, by force, people could be forced to testify as guilty despite their true innocence or guilt. Next, the sixth amendment changed the courtroom and due process by giving Americans the right to counsel. This gave anyone charged with a crime proper defense of their rights because many people were not able to defend themselves, not knowing the court system. In class the movie Gideon’s Trumpets showed the revolution of right to counsel when he was not able to defend himself in court and convicted due entirely that fact. The Eighth amendment was the next milestone affecting Due Process. The Eighth amendment stated, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” This protected life, liberty, and freedom even for those convicted of crimes. Several of the movies we watched in class dealt with prison life and cruel and unusual punishment that reoccurred there. With the booming economy caused by slavery at the time, the development of due process slowed. Then, with the Civil War resolved by the victory of the North, the development moved on. The Thirteenth amendment, in 1865, abolished slavery, giving rights to all peoples of the United States as citizens based on the origin of their birth and their time living in the country. This came from the overturning of the Dred Scott case of 1857, which gave the world the idea of “separate but equal.” Soon after, in 1868, the Fourteenth amendment further gave life, liberty, and freedom to everyone by declaring peoples votes would be counted equally and allowing anyone within certain qualifications to run for government positions. It also added the second due process clause that neither could any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or freedom without due process of law.

The Warren court was the prominent force in the development of Due Process, and continued to support Due Process, but not through the creation of new laws or procedures, but through judicial review. This power gave the Supreme Court the ability to hear cases from lower level courts and make their own decision based on Constitution instead of State law. A classic example of the judicial review is the case of Marbury vs. Madison, 1803, which Chief Justice Marshall redecided the case based on the a greater force than state law, the Constitution. This judicial review was again utilized in 1816, in the Martin vs. Hunter’s Lessee. Warren would carry on this tradition in the modern courts making changes to what would become landmark cases to end the development of Due Process and move the United States in to the era we can classify as the Due Process Revolution.

After the Warren Court applied the Fourteenth amendment to the states, the Due Process revolution began. The legal climate was changed in the overturning of several key cases. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth amendments would all play key roles in the revolution along with the concept of Restorative vs. Redistributive Justice.

The Due Process Revolution was officially launched with the overturning of the case Plessy vs. Ferguson(1896) by the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka in 1954. This case when put through judicial review by the Warren Court (1953-1969), declared that separate was not equal and that everyone must be incorporated together in all aspects, such as seating, public facilities, etc. The ideals that came from this case would also launch the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states, “To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.”

The next step in the revolution was the case of the Silverthorne Lumber Company vs. United States. This case added to Due Process the idea of the “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree,” which specified that is evidence is taken illegally, then the evidence may not be used in a court of law. In this case, police broke into the lumber company and stole tax records that proved that the company was guilty of tax evasion. However the 1920 case ruled it inconclusional based on not enough evidence due to the fact that the records were not taken into consideration. The Fourth amendment also played a part in the case of Mapp vs. Ohio (1961) which overturned Wolf vs. Colorado(1949), by saying that the Fourth amendment Exclusionary Rule from the case Weeks vs. US (1914) was now applicable to the states individually. This was possible through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth amendment.

The Fifth amendment was also a significant factor in the Due Process revolution. The double jeopardy clause, the idea that you cannot be tried twice for the same crime was applied to the states in 1969 in the case of Benton vs. Maryland. This case overturned the previous case of Palko vs. Connecticut (1937) where Palko was retried on a case where he was sentenced to prison and the second time he was tried for the same crime he was sentenced to death. The case of Escebedo vs. Illinois(1964) also elaborated on the Fifth amendment, saying that once you move from investigating to accusing a person, a lawyer must be present for the proper defense and interpretation. Miranda vs. Arizona (1966) also developed during this period adding onto the Fifth amendment that you must be read your “Miranda Rights” when taken into custody.

The Sixth amendment was revolutionized with the cases of Gideon vs. Wainright (1963), and several juvenile court procedings. The sixth amendment changed the courtroom and due process by giving Americans the right to counsel. This gave anyone charged with a crime proper defense of their rights because many people were not able to defend themselves, not knowing the court system. In class the movie Gideon’s Trumpets showed the revolution of right to counsel when he was not able to defend himself in court and convicted due entirely that fact. His wrote to the Supreme Court who tried his case and gave him proper counsel to defend himself. Several court cases also changed the Sixth amendment to apply to juveniles convicted of crimes. They included Kent vs. US( 1966), In re Gault (1967), In re Winship (1970), Breed vs, Jones (1975), and Illinois vs. Montenez (1996), which held that a “concerned adult” must accompany a child on trial.

The Eighth amendment was revolutionized with the case of Robinson vs. California (1962), which applied the Eighth amendment, the right against cruel and unusual punishment to the states. The case of Avery vs. Johnson also affected the Eighth amendment in 1968 when it declared “jailhouse lawyers legal, absent other legal resources.” The case of Wolff vs. McDonnell (1974) reversed the case Ruffin vs. Commonwealth of (1871), which made prisoners slaves of the state, and gave the prisoners new Constitutional protections, especially against cruel and unusual punishment. There was also great debate over whether the Eighth amendment supported Restorative or Redistributive Justice. These two types of justice focused on different aspects of criminals. Restorative focused activities and punishment on the consequences of the crime towards the public and individuals, while Redistributive focused on the offenders past behavior. The ideas of probation and parole were also questioned in the revolution within the Eighth amendment. The case of Morrisey vs. Brewer (1972) was the landmark defining the specifications of parole, and the case Gagnon vs. Scarpelli in 1973 set forth the standards for probation. The final adaptations to the Eighth amendment were about inmate conditions, it included Holt vs. Sarver which discussed “shocking the conscience,” Pell vs. Procunier (1974) which dealt with the legal base of prisoner’s rights, capital punishment cases Furman vs. Georgia in 1972 and Gregg vs. Georgia in 1976.

The Fourteenth amendment began the Due Process Revolution and would conclude the revolution leading to the aftermath. The Fourteenth amendment gave the courts after Warren, Burger and Rehnquist the ability to again change the cases and ideal that ruled the amendments. Their more conservative interpretations created controversy in the way that amendments now affected citizens as opposed to their “old” meanings.

During the Warren Court, there was the idea of, the development of, and the enforcement of Due Process. However, then came the aftermath, the Burger and Rehnquist courts, both of which were not happy with the previous work of the Warren Court. The many efforts of Warren and his supporters were not liked, even despised by Burger and Rehnquist, and they made valiant efforts to modify and overturn many of his landmarks.

The main points prevalent in the Burger Court affecting the Warren Courts previous decisions were the Good Faith Exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule. The Burger Court lasted from 1969 to 1986. The Good Faith Exceptions modified the ideas of the 4th Amendment upon the Courts basis that, “If a Law Enforcement Officer has acted in objective good faith, or their transgressions have been minor; the magnitude of the benefit conferred on such guilty defendants offends basic concepts of the criminal justice system.” These ideas sprang from the case of U.S. vs. Leon in 1984 where from surveillance of Leon talking to a confidant, police found probable cause to issue a warrant, and found a multitude of drugs in his three residences. The evidence was later suppressed in a court due to insufficient cause for a search warrant. The Exceptions came into play here eventually allowing the evidence based on the previous court statement. The Burger court also ruled on another case that year called Massachusetts vs. Sheppard (1987), which found officers not having sufficient details for a search warrant. This changed the original Warren court outlines with the Mapp vs. Ohio case of 1961, thereby modifying probable cause.

The main points prevalent in the Rehnquist Court affecting the Warren Courts were the exceptions to the Miranda and Escebedo decisions. The Rehnquist Court is still in power today since its beginning in 1986. The “inevitable discovery doctrine” modified Warren Courts case, and was created during the case of Brewer vs. Williams in 1977, where a defendant was violated of his right to counsel. The “public safety exception” was created in concurrence with the case of New York vs. Quarles (1984), where the publics safety was violated by Quarles possession of a weapon. The article attached to our handout emphasized the reforms to the 5th and 6th Amendments, discussing the case of U.S. vs. Dickerson. Because Dickerson had failed to have been read his Miranda rights, even though he did confess to the crime. The Miranda case was re-examined but only reaffirmed, not changed. This was a huge landmark in the Rehnquist court that caused much turmoil in the politics of the American criminal justice system.

Beyond these landmarks in the Burger and Rehnquist Courts, other Warren decisions were modified, including the 8th Amendment, guarding prisoners against cruel and unusual punishment. The return of the “Hands-Off Doctrine” allowed for certain acts in the correctional system based on a case of Wilson vs. Seiter in 1991. In this case a prisoner accused an Arkansas prison of abusing its inmates. The Doctrine required a “deliberate indifference by the prison officials” to be considered cruel and unusual treatment, due to the fact that not everything was containable in the prison system. The case of Sandin vs. Conner (1995), ended with criminal system of the U.S. being revised to allow greater flexibility toward Redistributive justice, where the prisoner pays for his crimes along with his rehabilitation.

The 14th Amendment was also modified after the Warren Court. The Revolution aftermath swayed the Supreme Court toward a strict Constructionist interpretation of laws and cases. The Warren Courts of ideals of judicial activism and the states ideals of judicial review were beginning to crumble under the new revisions of the Burger and Rehnquist courts. The Supreme Court today still follows this revised idea of constitutionalism, a perfect example being the current choice of the Supreme Court to choose Bush for president, not by a constitutional decision but based on the will and whim of the judges of the Supreme Court. Is this the way Due Process will continue, or will the future hold more change?

The Future of Due Process is unpredictable just as everything is, however many of the things that have reoccurred in history surely provide a key to how the future will be. Several cases that modify old ideas for modern times act as a key for what will happen in the future of Due Process. The ideals of Crime Control, the need to enforce the law, and Due Process, the need to protect the innocent, are a constant clash throughout history. The idea of crime control is rapidly rising and surely will in the future with higher-tech weapons and methods are developed, however the ideal of Due Process will not crumble, because they are necessary for the court system and society in general. The fight between political climate and supreme court is also and important factor in the future of due process. Politics rule the United States today, but do they rule the Supreme Court? In a way yes, the presidents choose who will be added to the Supreme Court, and different presidential parties would make different decisions, making the court different based on who is in office. This fact made big headlines with the recent presidential election being made by the Supreme Court and who Bush would choose to elect to the court. Was the courts election decision made based on who Bush vs. Gore would choose to put into the Supreme Court?

As mentioned before the advancement of technology is playing a huge part in world relations and will surely affect the future of due process. What amendments affect genetically created organisms? How can the court help police and the FBI control identity theft within the restraints of Due Process? Also with the increasing religious conflicts throughout the world will changes need to be made in the Constitution to affect the interactions on a global level?

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