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Search and seizure, Warden v. Hayden, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment


Constitutional Law | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure


There is a recognizable factual distinction between the search and seizure of private papers and the search and seizure of non-documentary items. It is difficult, however, to decide when such a distinction should assume constitutional dimensions. Specifically, are there circumstances under which private papers should be immune from search and seizure? In a 1967 landmark case, Warden v. Hayden, the United States Supreme Court raised doubts concerning the continued validity of decades of settled law on this important issue. Warden's reopening of this problem aroused the curiosity of commentators, spurred new policy arguments in the American Law Institute, divided the lower federal courts, and raised fundamental questions concerning the central meaning of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. This Comment will explore the background leading to the present state of legal confusion, assess recent trends in decisional law, discuss the relevant policy arguments, and suggest a new approach regarding the search and seizure of private papers.

Publication Citation

Published in: Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, vol. 6, no. 2 (July 1973).