Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1495202
 
 

Footnotes (204)



 


 



The Rise and Fall of Material Witness Detention in Nineteenth Century New York


Wes Oliver


Widener University - School of Law


NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2005
Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-24

Abstract:     
With the Ninth Circuit's opinion in al-Kidd v. Ashcroft holding that material witness detentions may not be used as a pretext to hold suspects, it is worth noting that as a practical matter the power has never been used any other way. The practice dates make to the 1840s as professional police departments were being created. In the mid-nineteenth century policing was becoming a career. For the first time, there were incentives to investigate crime; law enforcement provided opportunites for long-term retention and promotion. Officers employed by newly-established police departments began to aggressively investigate crime using powers unimagineable to their constable and night-watch precedecessors. Among these new powers was the ability to detain material witnesses. Officers began to detain suspects, whom they lacked adequate suspicion to charge, as witnesses. As the public became aware of the incarceration of those identified only as "witnesses," officer found the public very unwilling to cooperate in investigations for fear of being held for the crime of possessing helpful information. In New York, the Police Department asked the legislature in the late nineteenth century to allow only the detention of witnesses suspected of being accomplices. The legislature's acquiescence to the law enforcement request demonstrates not only the rising influence of law enforcement interests in the late-nineteenth century, it also demonstrates that the public was comfortable with material witness detentions only when they were used as a pretext to hold suspects.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 57

Keywords: nineteenth century, legal history, criminal procedure, material witness detention, al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, interrogation, police

JEL Classification: K1, K4

Accepted Paper Series





Download This Paper

Date posted: November 1, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Oliver, Wes, The Rise and Fall of Material Witness Detention in Nineteenth Century New York. NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2005; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-24. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1495202

Contact Information

Wes Oliver (Contact Author)
Widener University - School of Law ( email )
4601 Concord Pike
P.O. Box 7286
Wilmington, DE 19803-0474
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 807
Downloads: 58
Download Rank: 224,459
Footnotes:  204

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo4 in 0.375 seconds