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Case Basics
Docket No. 
New Hampshire
(By appointment of the Court, argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Facts of the Case 

In the wake of a "particularly brutal" murder of a fourteen-year-old girl, the New Hampshire Attorney General took charge of police activities relating to the murder. When the police applied for a warrant to search suspect Edward Coolidge's automobile, the Attorney General, acting as a justice of the peace, authorized it. Additionally, local police had taken items from Coolidge's home during the course of an interview with the suspect's wife. Coolidge was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.


Did the searches of Coolidge's home and automobile violate the Fourth Amendment?

Decision: 5 votes for Coolidge, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

In a decision in which a number of justices chose to concur in part and dissent in part, the Court held that the searches and seizures of Coolidge's property were unconstitutional. Justice Stewart's opinion held that the warrant authorizing the seizure of Coolidge's automobile was invalid because it was not issued by a "neutral and detatched magistrate." Stewart also rejected New Hampshire's arguments in favor of making an exception to the warrant requirement. Stewart held that neither the "incident to arrest" doctrine nor the "plain view" doctrine justified the search, and that an "automobile exception" was inapplicable.

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COOLIDGE v. NEW HAMPSHIRE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
COOLIDGE v. NEW HAMPSHIRE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"COOLIDGE v. NEW HAMPSHIRE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,