The Failure of the Criminal Procedure Revolution

By Craig M. Bradley | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
The Criminal Procedure Revolution

It is now apparent, on the basis of the material presented in Chapter 1, that the so-called "criminal procedure revolution" of the 1960s was more an acceleration of an evolutionary process that had begun in the 1930s than a true revolution. The fourth amendment had already been applied to the states, and numerous state convictions had been reversed by the Supreme Court because police interrogation procedures had violated the Court's concept of "due process." The Court had also intruded on the state criminal trial, striking down convictions in a variety of cases where it felt that the defendant had not received a fair trial. Up until the 1960s, however, the Court had been content to base its decisions reversing state convictions on the general concept of "due process" as expressed in the fourteenth amendment. In Adamson v. California,1 decided in 1947, it had specifically refused to hold that the concept of "due process" necessarily incorporated the entire body of the Bill of Rights. But in a series of cases decided in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, it had decided that the first amendment protections of speech, press, and religion were all applicable to the states 2 and, as discussed, it had applied the fourth amendment to the states in 1949 (but had never used it as the basis for reversing a state conviction.)

The stage was thus set to apply to the states those other provisions of the Bill of Rights that the Court deemed "fundamental." In the short period from 1961 to 1969 the Court's conception of what was fundamental was expanded to include all the significant provisions of the Bill of Rights. The process began with the landmark case of Mapp v. Ohio.3 In Mapp the Court was confronted with the case of a black woman whose house had been searched by the police looking for a bombing suspect. When Mapp refused the police entrance without a

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