Case brief Illinois v. Wardlow (2000)

Case Brief

Casebrief: Illinois v. Wardlow (2000)


Thecase Illinois v. Wardlow (2000) was a held in the US Supreme Courtpitting William Wardlow against the state of Illinois pertaining tosearches and seizures.


Thecourt heard that officers patrolling an area notorious for narcoticswere informed by the behavior of Wardlow which was to flee on seeingpolice. At the time, Wardlow was in possession of an opaque bag. Tothe police, the fleeing justified seizure and search. The police thuspursued Wardlow and seized hi,. Upon searching, he was found to becarrying a loaded gun in the bag and thus Wardlow was immediatelyarrested for weapons violation.


Themain issue was whether fleeing without provocation from identifiablepolice officers was reason enough to pursue, seize and search anindividual. Under the fourth amendment, unreasonable seizure andsearch without a court warrant supported by probable cause.


Wardlow`spresence in area with a history of heavy narcotics trafficking andassociated crime and his unprovoked flight from his position uponseeing the police, gave officers sufficient reasonable suspicion toconduct a Terrystop.


Thecourt’s opinion was that a Terry v.Ohio (1968) was not applicablein the case of Wardlow because there was no “reasonable,articulable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot” or ongoing.Instead the police relied on Wardlow’s presence in a scene of“expected criminal activity” which was not enough to seize andfrisk.

Thevote dissent, concurring opinions

Vote:The Supreme Court held in a 5 to 4 decision that the police hadreasonable suspicion to justify the stop. Justice Stevens argued thatthe government did not provide enough facts to proof that there wasreasonable suspicion to warrant pursuing and seizing a suspect.

Dissent:Justice John Paul Stevens dissented by saying that unprovoked flightof a suspect in a high crime neighborhood did not justify a Terrystop and frisk.

Concurrence:Justice Stevens concurred with the court’s rejection of rulesproposed by the courts authorizing detention of anyone who flees uponseeing police.


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