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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mixed Motives

I’ve been researching suspicionless vehicle checkpoints under City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, and thinking in particular about the requirement under Edmond that such checkpoints have a “primary programmatic police purpose” other than a “general interest in crime control.” Edmond raised a lot of questions, of course, about what “crime control” means precisely, and the Court’s subsequent decision in Illinois v. Lidster only sharpened those questions. But for the moment I’m quite interested in the Court’s implication in Edmond that when people act in response to multiple motives—here, commanding police officers who institute a checkpoint program—the objectives motivating this conduct consistently and accurately can be isolated and prioritized. I haven’t studied human motivation outside of traditional criminal law and procedure contexts. I wonder, however, whether the Court’s “primary programmatic purpose” standard reflects sound psychology, or is just one area of the law where the Court is willing to allow this type of ad hoc, and arguably haphazard judicial inquiry as a necessary trade-off for what these checkpoints do not require: individualized suspicion of the persons detained. Do any established methodologies exist for parsing and weighing mixed human motives for conduct, especially when that conduct is institutional more than individualized, such as when a police department institutes a checkpoint?

Posted by Brooks Holland on June 8, 2006 at 06:05 PM in Criminal Law | Permalink

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