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Criminal Procedure – Constitutional Limitations in a Nutshell, 7th Ed., by Jerold H. Israel and Wayne R. LaFave

Criminal Procedure – Constitutional Limitations in a Nutshell,
7th Ed., by Jerold H. Israel and Wayne R. LaFave

(West Group, 2006). 539 pages, $38.00

Book review by John E. Dannenberg

Criminal Procedure – Constitutional Limitations in a Nut Shell is best understood by first understanding what it is not – it is not a text on the broader subject of general criminal procedure. Rather, this text approaches criminal procedures that are more narrowly circumscribed by specific constitutional constraints. With an emphasis on leading case law defining such constraints, Criminal Procedure addresses in detail each of the following topics: Arrest, search and seizure; wiretapping and use of secret agents; police interrogation and confessions; lineups; the exclusionary rule; right to counsel; the privilege against self-incrimination; bail; and appellate review.

Authors Israel and LaFave, seasoned law professors, are careful to point out there is no substitute for reading and discoursing on the seminal court decisions that have come to define constitutional limitations in criminal procedure. That being said, it is also true there is no substitute for studying a succinct treatise on constitutional criminal procedures when you are already confined and seek to understand your rights. Criminal Procedure offers prisoners just such a self-paced study, written in a refreshing form that is not intimidating to the average layman.

For example, the following summary of the first chapter on arrests is representative of the detailed discussions offered in this book. Beginning with the Fourth Amendment’s roots in arrest, the discussion first distinguishes the seizure of a person from the seizure of property. Topics in the chapter include privacy interests, plain view, smell and hearing.
Special consideration is given to searches of vehicles and personal effects. Analysis is provided as to “probable cause” and informant issues. Both search warrants and warrantless searches are covered, with and without notice. Searches incidental to arrest and brief jail detentions are addressed, as are border searches, searches incidental to security at airports and searches related to employment. Finally, the chapter discusses searches by consent or with third party consent.

And that is just the first of nine chapters. Throughout the text, the authors denominate each topic of interest based upon its case law origins, e.g., the Miranda rule. As a bonus the book includes an additional 38 pages of U.S. Supreme Court citations related to relevant constitutional principles.

In conclusion, Criminal Procedure accomplishes what it sets out to do – explain to a budding student of law how constitutional limitations define issues concerning criminal procedure. Criminal Procedure is available in PLN’s book store – see page 54.

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