LegalSpeak: Extending Criminal Procedure Rights in the Bill of Rights to the States
The Supreme Court Term
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The Warren Court extended many constitutional freedoms to the states in several of its rulings. These include:
Extended Freedoms: Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule; the exclusionary rule provides that evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment is excluded from evidence and must be suppressed. Justice Benjamin Cardozo referred to it as “the criminal goes free because the constable has blundered.”
Extended Freedoms: Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, which provides that punishment cannot be too disproportionate and excessive in proportion to the crime committed. For example, a 30 year sentence for simple assault would be “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment.
Extended Freedoms: Sixth Amendment right to counsel; this means that criminal defendants charged with serious crimes in state court have a right to an attorney. In this case, the Court said that criminal defense attorneys were “necessities, not luxuries.”
Extended Freedoms: Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; this means that the state cannot force a criminal defendant or suspect to speak against his or her will.
Court Case: Pointer v. Texas (1965)
Extended Freedoms: Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses; the Confrontation Clause enables criminal defendants (or their lawyers) to challenge the testimony and accuracy of witness’s statements and accusations.
Extended Freedoms: Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury; this means that a jury must be selected from a fair-cross section of the community and not exclude certain groups based on race for instance.
Extended Freedoms: Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial; this means that the government must institute legal proceedings and not simply keep a person in jail without proceeding with the case against the defendant.
Extended Freedoms: Sixth Amendment right to compulsory process; the compulsory process clause means that a defendant has the right to have the court issue subpoenas to witnesses to help in his or her defense.
Extended Freedoms: Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial in criminal cases; this means that criminal defendants have a right to present their defense before a jury of their peers.
Extended Freedoms: Fifth Amendment right to be free from double jeopardy; the double jeopardy clause means that the government cannot bring a subsequent prosecution if the person was already found innocent or guilty of the crime.