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Searches, Privacy, and the Notion of Constitutional Protection in a Public Restroom

NCJ Number
Willamette Law Review Volume: 25 Issue: 4 Dated: (Fall 1989) Pages: 855-879
K V Richardson
Date Published
25 pages
Because Oregon courts do not follow the definition for a public-place search as set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Katz v. United States and instead rely on a right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure as guaranteed under the Oregon constitution, restroom privacy cases in Oregon limit warrantless police searches in public places even when criminal conduct is being committed in plain view of the public.
The article examines Katz v. United States in detail, as well as cases dealing with police surveillance of public restrooms in California, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Maryland, and Washington. Oregon's approach to police surveillance of public restrooms is discussed in detail, focusing on State constitutional guarantees and relevant case law. The article concludes that Oregon's Supreme Court must clarify what is meant by search under the State constitution for the present definition appears to forbid warrantless undercover police surveillance by electronic means in any public place that provides even a fleeting expectation of privacy. 131 footnotes.


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