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A Landmark Case of Dollree Mapp in The American Justice System

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The American justice system is one of the best in the world. It has evolved greatly since the creation of the United States more than 200 years. Not only is it less biased and racist, as it was bound to be during the time of slavery, but it is also much more sophisticated and professional. Everything that happens in the court nowadays is due to experience. The saying is ‘practice makes perfect,’ and as the courts have gotten a lot more cases throughout the years, the better they have become. There have been many notable cases, mostly at the Supreme Court level, that have shaped America as it is today. These cases range from about racism, like that of Korematsu v. US, all the way to murder cases involving really famous celebrities, like that of The People of the State of California vs. OJ Simpson. What all these cases have in common is how evidence was collected for the trial. Most cases have at least some tangible evidence that needs to be collected in the most proper manner, and that is what Mapp v. Ohio is all about. This case has made the idea of search warrants a necessity for any law enforcement officer trying to obtain evidence. This case has shaped the justice system into what it is today.

Dollree Mapp

What makes a case a landmark case? Is it the type of case? Or the result of the case? Or maybe even who the case was about? Mapp v. Ohio was a combination of all of these. Not only did this case have a black woman stand up to the law during one of the most intense decades of the US, due to the Civil Rights Movement, but it also launched what many call the ‘due process revolution in the American justice system.’ This case had the result that many people think that the United States has been with since the Constitution was ratified but was only decided merely 50+ years ago. This incredibly vital result ensured that state officials had to have a court appointed search permit to be allowed to search any private property for any particular reason. This ruling has not only made the United States into the democracy it strives to be, but also assures the people their rights. This ruling topped off maybe the most successful justice system in the world even up to this date.

Dollree Mapp was born and raised in the state of Mississippi where she quickly got into trouble by getting pregnant as a teenager without any support from the father of the child (Mapp, 2018). She then moved to Cleveland where she lived a luxurious lifestyle by always associating herself with famous boxers and racketeers. When she grew out of that state of life, Mapp moved to New York to pursue her dream in business, where she launched one business after another. Some of these were actually legitimate while others were just part of her great imagination that consisted of many things. She later moved back to Cleveland, Ohio, where she married and later divorced Jimmy Bivins, an excellent boxer. Mapp had said Bivins had beaten her which led to a messy divorce. Not long after the divorce, Mapp got engaged to another famous boxer, Archie Moore, but never tied the knot. She later sued Moore for breach of promise. All of these experiences in her young life led to the moment where she made history. It led to the moment where Dollree Mapp did almost the unspeakable. She stood up to the white police in arguably the fiercest times in American history: the 1950s-1960s.

None of Mapp’s friends would be surprised about what she did in the year of 1957. They described her as “brilliant and beautiful and bold.”(Mapp, 2018) Her niece, who took care of Mapp in her late stages of life, said that, “If you told her no. That just meant yes for her.” All of the qualities described by many of Mapp’s closest acquaintances would lead her to expose illegal police tactics. In May of the same year, the police of Cleveland were investigating an alleged bombing at the home of Don King, a famous boxing promoter in the area. The police received a tip that the bomber may be hiding in the home of Dollree Meep. Three police showed up to her front door where they demanded to be let in. She stubbornly rejected the police from entering her home and called her lawyer. Her lawyer, Alexander Kearns, told her to keep on rejecting the police, and only let them in if they produced a search warrant. Kearns said even if they did bring a search warrant, she had to read it to make sure it was legal and not just an attempt by the police to find a loophole around the American justice system. As time went by, more and more police officers showed up to Mapp’s front door, where she continually kept them out. Three hours after the initial incident, one of the police officers had obtained a claimed search warrant. There were now up to 15 police officers demanding to be let in with a ‘search warrant’ in their hands. A lieutenant was right in front of her door and waved the search warrant in front of Mapp’s face.

Mapp demanded to read the search warrant, but the lieutenant refused. This led to Mapp snatching the warrant out of the lieutenant’s hands and putting the warrant in her blouse. After some confusion, a sergeant went after the warrant in her blouse even though Mapp never allowed him. They then forced their way into her house and completely ransacked the house even after they had found no obvious suspect in the premises. They went through Mapp’s personal boxes and drawers where the sergeant who had taken the search warrant from Mapp’s blouse found a box that contained obscene materials, including nude sketches and four books considered ‘improper.’ Mapp told the police that they weren’t hers, but a former roomer that had resided with her. She said she was keeping them for her as they weren’t hers to throw out. Some say these obscene materials were the reason Mapp repeatedly rejected the swarm of police officers.

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a Landmark Case of Dollree Mapp in the American Justice System. (2020, January 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from
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