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Do Warrants Matter?

36 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2007 Last revised: 28 Sep 2011

Max Minzner

University of New Mexico School of Law

Christopher M. Anderson

University of Rhode Island - Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Date Written: December 14, 2007

Abstract

The recently-disclosed Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) has caused debate over whether warrants should be required for wiretaps targeting international terrorism. We examine traditional criminal wiretaps to determine whether the warrant requirement limits law enforcement. We find budget constraints cause law enforcement to pursue only taps that are particularly likely to succeed. Thus, eliminating the warrant requirement for traditional wiretaps would matter little, and the significance of a warrant requirement for the TSP depends on budget. If the program is well-funded, a warrant requirement will deter marginal taps, but if the program is lightly funded, a warrant requirement is superfluous.

Keywords: warrants, wiretaps, electronic surveillance, criminal procedure, criminal law, law enforcement, budget

JEL Classification: K14, K40, K42, K49, H39, H56

Suggested Citation

Minzner, Max and Anderson, Christopher M., Do Warrants Matter? (December 14, 2007). Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 212. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1073142 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1073142

Max Minzner (Contact Author)

University of New Mexico School of Law ( email )

1117 Stanford, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

Christopher Anderson

University of Rhode Island - Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics ( email )

213 Kingston Coastal Institute
One Greenhouse Road
Kingston, RI 02881
United States

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