Case Brief Instructions

Case: Terry v. Ohio
Component of the Criminal Justice System: Law enforcement
Topic: Stop and Frisk

1. Ethical System Application:
a. Discuss whether the majority opinion reflects the application of a deontological or teleological/consequentialist ethical system and the rationale behind your conclusion.
b. If you had to rule on the case, what ethical system would you use to guide your legal analysis (teleological/consequentialist or deontological) and why? What are the costs and benefits of relying on the chosen ethical system to guide your legal reasoning? The justices’ role is to interpret the law in a way that ensures actions are constitutional. How well do you believe your chosen ethical system allows you to adhere to constitutional requirements? Support your arguments.

a. The majority opinion in Terry v. Ohio reflects the application of a teleological/consequentialist ethical system, as the opinion is based on a balancing of the interests of the police in protecting public safety and the individual’s right to privacy and personal security. The Court found that the “stop and frisk” practice was reasonable and constitutional, as it was deemed necessary to prevent serious harm to the public, even though it involved a limited intrusion into the individual’s privacy.

b. If I had to rule on the case, I would use a teleological/consequentialist ethical system to guide my legal analysis, as it allows for a balancing of the different interests and values at play. The costs of relying on this ethical system include the possibility of favoring the interests of the state over individual rights and freedoms. However, the benefits of this ethical system include its ability to consider the specific circumstances of each case and the potential consequences of different decisions, which can lead to more just and fair outcomes.

In terms of adhering to constitutional requirements, my chosen ethical system allows me to take into account the specific facts and circumstances of the case, as well as the importance of preserving individual rights and liberties. This approach helps to ensure that the constitutional requirements of due process and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures are met. Additionally, by considering the potential consequences of different decisions, I can ensure that the decision is in line with the spirit and intent of the Constitution.
While teleological/consequentialist ethical system has its costs and benefits, it is a useful tool for guiding legal analysis and ensuring that the actions of law enforcement are constitutional and respectful of individual rights and liberties.