Using Jay-Z to Teach the Fourth Amendment


The rapper Jay-Z can teach students, police and drug smugglers quite a bit about fourth amendment case law, according to Southwestern Law School professor Caleb Mason.

An essay written by Mason and published recently in the St. Louis University Law Journal provides a line-by-line analysis of the second verse of the song “99 Problems,” by Jay-Z, from the perspective of a criminal procedure professor.

“In one compact, teachable verse (Verse 2), the song forces us to think about traffic stops, vehicle searches, drug smuggling, probable cause, and racial profiling,” according to Mason.

The lesson for cops, concludes Mason, is that traffic law can be used as a pretext for catching drug smugglers, but only through a labor intensive process that can include having a K-9 unit on scene or impounding a suspect's vehicle. The lessons for criminals include: refuse to provide consent for searches, know basic reasonable suspicion rules and make a record of the encounter.

Read the essay HERE.

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