• Last updated on November 11, 2022

Although the Supreme Court did not make the Fifth Amendment or the exclusionary rule binding on the states, it held that evidence obtained in a shocking and grossly unfair manner cannot be used in a criminal trial.

Based on information that Antonio Rochin was selling drugs, the police entered his home without obtaining a search warrant. After observing Rochin swallow two capsules, the police rushed him to a hospital, where a doctor used an emetic solution and a stomach pump to force him to vomit the pills into a pail. The pills, which contained morphine, were used as evidence in his trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to sixty days in jail.Due process, substantive;Rochin v. California[Rochin v. California]Incorporation doctrine;Rochin v. California[Rochin v. California]

By an 8-0 vote, the Supreme Court overturned Rochin’s conviction. Speaking for a majority, Justice Felix FrankfurterFrankfurter, Felix;Rochin v. California[Rochin v. California] declared that breaking into the defendant’s house and then forcibly extracting his stomach’s content was “conduct that shocks the conscience.” Quoting Palko v. Connecticut[case]Palko v. Connecticut[Palko v. Connecticut] (1937), Frankfurter interpreted the due process clause as protecting those personal immunities that “are implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” In concurring opinions, Justices Hugo L. Black and William O. Douglas argued in favor of deciding the case on the basis of the Fifth Amendment, which should have been made binding on the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Black criticized Frankfurter for using a subjective natural law approach.

The Court finally ruled that the Fifth Amendment applied to the states in Malloy v. Hogan[case]Malloy v. Hogan[Malloy v. Hogan] (1964), and it ruled that in Fourth Amendment cases, the exclusionary rule is binding on the states in Mapp v. Ohio[case]Mapp v. Ohio[Mapp v. Ohio] (1961). Even though states are now required to respect most of the principles in the Bill of Rights, the subjective “shock the conscience” standard reappears from time to time in a variety of different contexts.

Due process, procedural

Exclusionary rule

Incorporation doctrine

Malloy v. Hogan

Mapp v. Ohio

Palko v. Connecticut

Search warrant requirement

Self-incrimination, immunity against

Categories: History