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My friend Josh sent me an amazing paper that combines “99 Problems” with legal analysis of the Fourth Amendment in the US.

Essentially the paper

“… is a line-by-line analysis of the second verse of 99 Problems by Jay-Z, from the perspective of a criminal procedure professor.”

Said professor Caleb Mason specifically discusses the legality of traffic stops, vehicle searches, drug smuggling, probable cause and racial profiling according to Jay-Z’s account in the song.

Some useful take-aways in case you don’t have time to read this awesomeness but want to avoid getting busted for carrying drugs, or bust someone who is:

  • Racial profiling does not give rise to a Fourth Amendment suppression claim if there was objective probable cause for the stop (p 571). That’s what the Fourteenth Amendment is for.
  • You are always better off having drugs found on you in a potentially illegal search than you are fleeing from a potentially illegal search and getting caught (p 572).
  • Locking your trunk does not keep the cops from legally being able to search it. All cops need to search your car is probable cause, not a warrant (in contrast to what Jay-Z raps).  So sans warrant in any vehicle stop, the officers may search the entire car, without consent, if they develop probable cause to believe that car contains, say, drugs (p 581).
  • Basically then, it all comes down to the ‘bitch’, i.e. the canine-unit. Without a dog sniff, there will most likely be no probable cause for a search for drugs in your vehicle if you’ve hidden them well (p 574).
[As an aside, Mason has also footnoted his phone number should anyone have additional queries “on either side of the game”. Points for keeping it old school, sir.]

(Thanks again, Josh!)