American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 49, Issue 4 (2013)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


F or readers who would like to review the truly momentous cases of the Supreme Court’s last Term, I heartily recommend Professor Todd E. Pettys’s article, More than Marriage: Civil Cases in the Supreme Court’s 2012-2013 Term, which also appears in this issue of Court Review. During this past Term, like the one before it, the real blockbusters were on the civil side. But the Court’s criminal docket was not without its charms. The justices wrestled with the collection of DNA evidence from arrestees, canine sniffs at the front door, non-custodial suspects’ silence in the face of questioning, and increased minimum sentences based on facts not submitted to the jury. This article reviews these and other criminal cases that may most interest jurists and lawyers in state courts, and concludes with a brief glimpse at the October 2013 Term.


Of all the criminal-law-related rulings this past Term, the Fourth Amendment decisions were perhaps the most significant. The Court issued important holdings on collecting forensic evidence (DNA and blood) without a warrant, using narcotics detection dogs, and detaining residents during a warrant search. The decisions regarding blood draws (Missouri v. McNeely) and detentions (Bailey v. United States) matter a lot in day-to-day policing. The DNA case (Maryland v. King) may well spur state legislatures to enact or revise laws for obtaining DNA from arrestees. Altogether, these rulings will influence police and courts for many years to come.