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Terry v. Ohio

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Significance: The Supreme Court upheld stop and frisk procedures in the first of a long series of cases.


Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for an eight-member majority, upheld Terry's conviction and an Ohio law allowing stop and frisk procedures. These procedures allow a police officer to stop people on the street and pat them down to see if they are carrying weapons. In Terry, the police officer patted down two persons he suspected of “casing” a store before robbing it. The men had paced back and forth in front of a store a dozen times in front of the police before the officer stopped them. Finding both men armed with pistols, the officer arrested them. The Supreme Court ruled it was proper to admit the guns into evidence in the trial. This was the first in a series of cases dealing with various stop and frisk procedures. Justice William O. Douglas dissented, finding the police behavior intrusive.