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A landmark case is one that is studied because it has historical and legal significance. The most
significant cases are those that have had a lasting effect on the application of a certain law, often
concerning individual rights and liberties.
For this assignment, you will write a case brief of one landmark case. A case brief is not a long
narrative, but rather a concise document that includes specific information.
Instructions: Look up one landmark case. State the name of the case, the year it was decided, and the
court that decided it. In your own words, briefly summarize 1) the facts of the original case, 2) the
legal questions that brought the case to the higher court, 3) the outcome, and 4) what makes it a
Use the following headings in your brief:
â€¢ Facts of Original Case
â€¢ Legal Questions
â€¢ Outcome (decision)
â€¢ What makes it a Landmark Case
Your assignment must be typed and double-spaced.
Please see the example below and use it as a guide for format and content of your case brief.
Maryland v King, 2013, United States Supreme Court
Facts of Original Case: Alonzo King was arrested and charged with assault. Per Maryland state law, a
buccal swab of Kingâ€s cheek was taken on arrest, and a DNA profile was generated and entered into
CODIS. A subsequent search in CODIS hit on an unidentified DNA sample from a rape case six years
prior. King was charged with the rape and found guilty.
Legal Questions: On appeal, Kingâ€s attorney asserted that the search and seizure of Kingâ€s DNA
violated his 4th Amendment right, and that the police had no probable cause to suspect him of having
committed any crime other than the assault he was originally charged with. He won the appeal. The
state of Maryland then appealed to the US Supreme Court (USSC), who accepted this case because it
dealt with several important legal and Constitutional questions: Does the 4th Amendment extend to
genetic privacy? Is the warrantless collection of DNA just part of the booking process, like
fingerprints? Or is it unreasonable under the 4th Amendment because it leads to, essentially, a
Outcome/Decision: The USSC overturned Kingâ€s appeal (5-4) and upheld the original verdict of guilty,
ruling that the seizure and search of DNA in not unconstitutional, and is much like the seizing and
searching of fingerprints.
What makes this a landmark case: The decision in this case validates law enforcementâ€s authority to
seize (and search) DNA from arrestees, which greatly increases their power. The decision places higher
value on public safety than individual rights, and erodes the protections of the 4th Amendment.
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