Judicial Process Impact Policy: Bailey v. United States (2013) Case
Overview of the Case
Bailey v. United States, 568 U.S. 186 (2013), is one of the most controversial cases on search and seizure in the history of the United States of America. A 6–3 decision reversed the weapons conviction of Bailey, a Long Island man who suffered a conviction when police tracked his vehicle on leaving his apartment just before they had to search it. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, and while Antonin Scalia staked a concurrence, Stephen Breyer opposed.
Meanwhile, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals maintained the sentence. It recognized and endorsed the argument of the government that the 1981 holding of the Court in Michigan v. Summers case that individuals in the immediate locality of searches can be apprehended while the execution of the searches continue was sufficiently comprehensive to cover the chase and arrest of the suspects who had left the scene in cars. In his opinion, Kennedy deferred holding that it did not, because one Bailey driving away, it meant that none of the law-enforcement interests the Michigan v. Summers holding identified were involved. Scalia, on the other hand, argued that what mattered the most was the fact that the vehicle was no longer in the direct vicinity of the locations warranted for search, and that harmonizing tests generated confusion. Breyer, on his part, held out that the police, in reality, had those interests despite Bailey’s exodus by his truck. As such, while there was a consensus over the case in the end of the day, both the agreement and the circumstances of its reaching were intensely debatable. To avoid such confusions in the future, there need to be a clear policy to govern search and seizure under such circumstances.
To achieve the above objective, there is necessity to understand and balance the interests of the main and all stakeholders in the case. In Bailey v. United States (2013) scenario, they included the defendant (Bailey) and the police officers who detained him and his colleague. A good policy should ensure the observance of the rights and freedoms of each party without the interference of those of the other. That is, the policy should conform to all other existing policies on the same issue to ensure there is no conflict of interest between the police officers and the defendants. It is only this way that we can solve the confusion and controversies involved in cases such as Bailey v. United States (2013), thereby easing the judicial process of the cases.
Among the main components of controversy and confusion in this case was that there was no probable cause for the search and seizure of Bailey and that the police as well arrested them away from the immediate vicinity of the apartment warranted for search. Unlike in Michigan v. Summers, here, the intrusion of the detention is more prominent as the police detains the defendants outside their residence, in public, and transported back to the residence under search consequently spelling “inconvenience” and “indignity” to the defendants. Secondly, the search is conducted in the absence of the “occupant:” hence, severely undercutting the law enforcement interests. Since the suspect is away from the premises under search, he will not be aware of it, and so, there will be no threat of flight upon the unearthing of incriminating evidence. Similarly, an individual away from the under search premises poses no threat of harm to the police or the public. Given these factors, the following policy will work: “A search and seizure can only be conducted when there is a probable cause and while the suspect is in their premises warranted for search or their immediate vicinity. Only when they are aware of the search and are trying to flee, or possess weapons, which endanger the lives of the police officers and the public, can they be searched and seized outside and in a rangy vicinity of their premises.” The only thing needed to implement this policy is to educate the police officers of its elements so that they understand how it works and how to apply it.