This note focuses on one battle in Nebraska’s “war on drugs,” a battle wherein state constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures were effectively emasculated by a majority of the Nebraska Supreme Court. Through its holding in State v. Havlat, the court refused to legitimize privacy expectations in Nebraska's "open fields" and has left law enforcement and litigants uncertain as to when, if ever, state constitutional guarantees will rise above the federal floor. The court's decision in Havlat fails on both substantive and methodological grounds. To analyze the Havlat decision, it is necessary to examine the substantive rationale in Havlat and Oliver v. United States, upon which the Havlat majority relied almost exclusively. The method of state constitutional interpretation used in Havlat is explored and suggestions for future state constitutional analysis are made.
John M. Ryan,
Home on the Range: The Vitality of the Open Fields Doctrine under the Nebraska Constitution: State v. Havlat, 222 Neb. 554, 385 N.W.2d 436 (1986),
66 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol66/iss4/10