Reluctantly, John Adams mailed the envelope addressed to his wife, Abigail, knowing the contents could bring about his death. This letter, mailed to his "dear friend," contained a description of his pleas for independence to the Continental Congress, a description that if located by the British, would most certainly subject him to charges of treason. Immediately after Mr. Adams dispatched his letter, he was approached by a British intelligence officer requesting to review the letter. Mr. Adams denied the officer's request and sent him on his way. Later, when the letter arrived to the unsuspecting Abigail, it was accompanied by a British officer who asked if he could examine the letter. Ignorant as to the letter's contents, Abigail consented to the request and the officer discovered the treasonous materials, resulting in the seizure of the letter and the subsequent arrest of Mr. Adams. Would our founding fathers have considered this particular exercise of police power beyond reproach? While this fictional illustration is distinguishable from the more disturbing factual scenario presented in United States v. Hudspeth, it nevertheless embodies the same question: If two individuals have common authority over a piece of property, can government officials purposely ignore one party's express refusal to search and instead accept the consent of the other party? Hudspeth asks this question in the unforgiving light of the despicable acts of a pedophile; where a computer containing child pornography takes the place of John Adams' rebellious letter. In light of its deplorable factual setting, Hudspeth is a case which must be viewed with an objective eye. In doing so, it is helpful to keep the analogy of John Adams's letter in mind, as one may be, albeit unconsciously, predisposed to the persecution of pedophiles. Because Hudspeth is a case which not only implicates the rights of a pedophile, but the rights of all citizens who wish to object to governmental searches and seizures of their property, objectivity is essential to arriving at the correct conclusion.
Benjamin M. Johnston,
Cotenants Trumping Cotenants: The Eighth Circuit Takes a Diverse Stance on Cotenants' Authority under the Fourth Amendment,
73 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol73/iss4/17