The “private search doctrine” is a semi-obscure corner of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. At its base, the doctrine addresses instances in which a private actor (i.e., not a law enforcement officer) conducts a “search” and discovers some species of contraband or proof of illegal conduct. That person must then proceed to notify law enforcement and/or present them with the item in question. Law enforcement must then proceed to duplicate the private search without first obtaining a judicial warrant.
Does this happen every day? Probably not. Yet, it does happen enough to be the subject of a recent decision by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, which opinion recounts a diverse line of state and federal authority on this very issue. Continue reading Can the “private search” doctrine serve as an exception to the Federal and State of New Jersey constitutional requirement that a warrant issue in advance of a search of a private home? The Supreme Court of New Jersey’s decision in State of New Jersey v. Ricky Wright (May 19, 2015)