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NCJ Number: 166105 Find in a Library
Title: Alabama v. White and Its Progeny
Journal: Criminal Law Bulletin  Volume:32  Issue:6  Dated:(November-December 1996)  Pages:541-563
Author(s): M M Smith; F Jacobs
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 23
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Alabama v. White questions its conclusion that an anonymous tip can give rise to the reasonable suspicion necessary for a vehicle stop in accordance with the Court's decision in Terry v. Ohio.
Abstract: White was the subject of an anonymous telephone tip received by the police of Montgomery, Ala. The informant stated that White would drive her car to a certain location and that an attache case in the car contained about an ounce of cocaine. The police followed the car to the location, where White consented to a search of the vehicle. The police found marijuana inside an attache case and arrested White. At the police station they found 3 milligrams of cocaine in White's purse. The decision in Alabama v. White does not require sufficient verification that the informant has not just provided information about the person's daily routine but has demonstrated a special knowledge about the person's involvement in illegal conduct. The approach based on the totality of the circumstances for determining reasonable suspicion is dangerously ambiguous, because it gives the police undue latitude to fabricate anonymous informants after the fact to justify a vehicle stop. Thus, the majority's decision subverts the Fourth Amendment. Numerous recent cases of dishonesty among police and informants document that the police cannot be presented to be trustworthy. The courts should not ignore the mounting evidence of police misconduct and should revisit the anonymous informant issue. Footnotes
Main Term(s): US Supreme Court decisions
Index Term(s): Police legal limitations; Reasonable suspicion; Vehicle searches; Vehicle stops; Warrantless search
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