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Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961), was a landmark case in criminal procedure, in which the United States Supreme Court decided that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against "unreasonable searches and seizures," may not be used in state law criminal prosecutions in state courts, as well as in federal criminal law prosecutions in federal courts as had previously been the law. The Supreme Court accomplished this by use of a principle known as selective incorporation; in Mapp this involved the incorporation of the provisions, as interpreted by the Court, of the Fourth Amendment which is applicable only to actions of the federal government into the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause which is applicable to actions of the states.

Mapp v. Ohio
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued March 29, 1961
Decided June 19, 1961
Full case nameDollree Mapp v. State of Ohio
Citations367 U.S. 643 (more)
81 S. Ct. 1684; 6 L. Ed. 2d 1081; 1961 U.S. LEXIS 812; 86 Ohio L. Abs. 513; 16 Ohio Op. 2d 384; 84 A.L.R.2d 933
Case history
PriorDefendant convicted, Cuyahoga County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas; affirmed, Ohio Court of Appeals; affirmed, Ohio Supreme Court 166 N.E.2d 387 (Ohio 1960)
SubsequentRehearing denied, 368 U.S. 871 (1961).
The Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth, excludes unconstitutionally obtained evidence from use in criminal prosecutions. Ohio Supreme Court reversed.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Earl Warren
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · Felix Frankfurter
William O. Douglas · Tom C. Clark
John M. Harlan II · William J. Brennan Jr.
Charles E. Whittaker · Potter Stewart
Case opinions
MajorityClark, joined by Warren, Black, Douglas, Brennan
DissentHarlan, joined by Frankfurter, Whittaker
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. IV, XIV
This case overturned a previous ruling or rulings
Wolf v. Colorado (1949)

Circumstances of the caseEdit

Dollree Mapp was an employee in the illegal gambling rackets dominated by Cleveland rackets kingpin Shon Birns. On May 23, 1957, police officers in Cleveland, Ohio, received an anonymous tip by phone that Virgil Ogletree, a numbers operator who was wanted for questioning in the bombing of rival numbers racketeer and future boxing promoter Don King's home three days earlier, might be found at Mapp's house, as well as illegal betting slips and equipment employed in the "California Gold" numbers operation set up by Mapp's boyfriend Edward Keeling.[1] Three officers went to the home and asked for permission to enter, but Mapp, after consulting her lawyer by telephone, refused to admit them without a search warrant. Two officers left, and one remained, watching the house from across the street.

Thirteen hours later, four cars full of police arrived and knocked on the door. When she did not answer, they forced the door. Mapp asked to see the alleged warrant and was shown a piece of paper which she snatched away from an officer, putting it inside her dress. The officers struggled with Mapp and recovered the piece of paper which was not seen by her or her lawyers again, and was not introduced as evidence in any of the ensuing court proceedings. When asked about the warrant during oral argument at the Supreme Court, the Cleveland prosecutor arguing the case cautiously deflected the question, which the court did not press.

As the search of Mapp's second-floor, two-bedroom apartment began, police handcuffed her for being belligerent. The police searched the house thoroughly and discovered Ogletree, who was subsequently cleared on the bombing charge, hiding in the apartment of the downstairs tenant, Minerva Tate. In the search of Mapp's apartment and in a footlocker in the basement of the house police found a quantity of "California Gold" betting slips and paraphernalia.[2][3] They also found a pistol and a small number of pornographic books and pictures which Mapp stated a previous tenant named Morris Jones had left behind.[2]

Mapp was arrested, charged, and cleared on a misdemeanor charge of possessing numbers paraphernalia; but several months later, after she refused to testify against Shon Birns, Edward Keeling and their associates at their trial that October for the attempted shakedown of Don King,[4] she was prosecuted for possession of the books, found guilty at a 1958 trial of "knowingly having had in her possession and under her control certain lewd and lascivious books, pictures, and photographs in violation of 2905.34 of Ohio's Revised Code", and sentenced to one to seven years in prison. Mapp was backed by Don King.[5]

Mapp then appealed her case to the Supreme Court, on the grounds that the police had no probable cause to suspect her of having the books. She stated that the 4th Amendment should be incorporated to the state and local level. She argued that the police couldn't use the books as evidence in the trial because they were found without a warrant and therefore illegally recovered. Mapp was the first to call upon this law, which created precedent for future cases.


The U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of Mapp. The Court overturned the conviction, and five Justices held that the states were bound to exclude evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment.[6] This majority decision applied the exclusionary rule to the states. Justice Potter Stewart, concurring in the result, expressed "no view as to the merits of the" exclusionary rule, but concurred because the Ohio statute concerning obscenity, under which Mapp had been convicted, violated the First Amendment. The three dissenting Justices would have adhered to the Court's contrary prior holding in Wolf v. Colorado, 338 U.S. 25 (1949), which declined to apply the exclusionary rule to the states.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Zotti, Priscilla. Injustice for All (Peter Lang, 2005).
  2. ^ a b Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961).
  3. ^ Duignan, Brian (2012-05-25). "Mapp v. Ohio". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  4. ^ Williams, Bob. "Dolly Mapp Sheds Glamour Gal Role", Cleveland Call and Post, Nov. 23, 1957, p. 1.
  5. ^ METV Special Report Don King
  6. ^

Further readingEdit

  • Long, Carolyn (2006). Mapp v. Ohio: Guarding Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1441-9.
  • Stewart, Potter (1983). "The Road to Mapp v. Ohio and beyond: The Origins, Development and Future of the Exclusionary Rule in Search-and-Seizure Cases". Columbia Law Review. 83 (6): 1365–1404. doi:10.2307/1122492. JSTOR 1122492.
  • Zotti, Priscilla H. Machado (2005). Injustice for All: Mapp vs. Ohio and the Fourth Amendment. New York: Peter Lang. ISBN 0-8204-7267-0.

External linksEdit