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Databases, Doctrine, and Constitutional Criminal Procedure

34 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2012  

Erin Murphy

New York University School of Law

Date Written: March 13, 2010


Over the past twenty years there has been an explosion in the creation, availability, and use of criminal justice databases. Large scale database systems now routinely influence law enforcement decisions ranging from formal determinations to arrest or convict an individual to informal judgments to subject a person to secondary pre-flight screening or investigate possible gang membership. Evidence gathered from database-related sources is now commonly introduced, and can play a pivotal proof role, in criminal trials. Although much has been written about the failure of constitutional law to adequately respond to the threat to privacy rights posed by databases, less attention has focused upon the awkward fit between database-generated evidence and the conventional modes of analysis in constitutional criminal procedure. This Essay examines databases as a tool of law enforcement and sets forth tentative steps toward a theory of constitutional violations in this area.

Keywords: databases, privacy, criminal procedure

JEL Classification: k42

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Erin, Databases, Doctrine, and Constitutional Criminal Procedure (March 13, 2010). Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 37, No. 803, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Erin Elizabeth Murphy (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-6672 (Phone)

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