Minnesota Law Review

Arrest Efficiency and the Fourth Amendment

In recent years, legal scholars have utilized the science of implicit social cognition to reveal how unconscious biases affect perceptions, behaviors, and judgments. Employing this science, scholars critique legal doctrine and challenge courts to take accurate theories of human behavior into account or to explain their failure to do so. Largely absent from this important conversation, however, are Fourth Amendment scholars. This void is surprising because the lessons of implicit social cognition can contribute much to understanding police behavior, especially as it relates to hit rates or “arrest efficiency”—the rates at which police find evidence of criminal activity when they conduct a stop and frisk. Empirical evidence consistently demonstrates that the police disproportionately stop and frisk nonwhites despite that stops and searches of whites are often more successful in yielding evidence of criminal activity. While economists and criminal-process scholars both suggest that arrest inefficiency is due to conscious racial bias, the science reveals that uncon­scious biases may also contribute. The Article argues that taking account of the science of implicit social cognition is important to the study of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and policing. It demonstrates that the failure to recognize the effects of implicit bias has resulted in a Fourth Amendment legal regime that unintentionally exacerbates the effects of implicit bias on police behavior. The Article suggests doctrinal and structural changes to protect privacy against arbitrary government intrusion more effectively.

:: View PDF

De Novo

  • Case Comment: Bhogaita v. Altamonte

    EVERY DOG CAN HAVE HIS DAY IN COURT: THE USE OF ANIMALS AS DEMONSTRATIVE EXHIBITS Kyle R. Kroll, Volume 100, Online Managing Editor In Bhogaita v. Altamonte, the Eleventh Circuit recently decided whether to allow a dog in the courtroom as a demonstrative exhibit.[1] Although the case presented many serious [...]

  • Revisiting Water Bankruptcy

    REVISITING WATER BANKRUPTCY IN CALIFORNIA’S FOURTH YEAR OF DROUGHT Olivia Moe, Volume 100, Managing Editor This spring, as “extreme” to “exceptional” drought stretched across most of California—indicating that a four-year streak of drought was not about to resolve itself[1]—Governor Jerry Brown issued an unprecedented order to reduce potable urban water [...]

  • Defying Auer Deference

    DEFYING AUER DEFERENCE: SKIDMORE AS A SOLUTION TO CONSERVATIVE CONCERNS IN PEREZ v. MORTGAGE BANKERS ASSOCIATION Nicholas R. Bednar, Volume 100, Lead Articles Editor* On March 9, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association.[1]F The Court overturned the D.C. [...]