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In any episode of the popular television show Law and Order, questions of police procedure in collecting evidence often arise. Was a search legal? Was the evidence obtained lawfully? Did the police follow the rules in pursuing their case? While the show depicts fictional cases and scenarios, police procedure with regard to search and seizure is a real and significant issue in the criminal justice system today. The subject of many Supreme Court decisions, they seriously impact the way police pursue their investigations, the way prosecutors proceed with their cases, and the way defense attorneys defend their clients. This book answers these questions and explains these decisions in accessible and easy to follow language. Each chapter explores a separate case or series of cases involving the application of the Fourth Amendment to current police investigatory practices or prosecutorial conduct of the criminal trial. The police-related cases involve topics such as searches of suspects (both prior and incident to arrest), pretext stops, the knock-and-announce rule, interrogation procedures, and the parameters of an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy. The prosecutor-related cases involve topics such as jury selection, the right to counsel, and sentencing. This important overview serves as an introduction to the realities and practicalities of police investigation and the functioning of the criminal justice system when search and seizure becomes an issue.
In 1952 in Edna, Texas, Pete Hernandez, a twenty-one-year-old cotton picker, got into a fight with several men and was dragged from a tavern, robbed, and beaten. Upon reaching his home he collected his .22-caliber rifle, walked two miles back to the tavern, and shot one of the assailants. With forty eyewitnesses and a confession, the case appeared to be open and shut. Yet Hernandez v. Texas turned into one of the nation's most groundbreaking Supreme Court cases. Ignacio Garcia's White But Not Equal explores this historic but mostly forgotten case, which became the first to recognize discrimination against Mexican Americans. Led by three dedicated Mexican American lawyers, the case argued for recognition of Mexican Americans under the 14th Amendment as a "class apart." Despite a distinct history and culture, Mexican Americans were considered white by law during this period, yet in reality they were subjected to prejudice and discrimination. This was reflected in Hernandez's trial, in which none of the selected jurors were Mexican American. The concept of Latino identity began to shift as the demand for inclusion in the political and judicial system began. Garcia places the Hernandez v. Texas case within a historical perspective and examines the changing Anglo-Mexican relationship. More than just a legal discussion, this book looks at the whole case from start to finish and examines all the major participants, placing the story within the larger issue of the fight for Mexican American civil rights.