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Stop! And enter the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s writing competition

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How’s your knowledge of the Fourth Amendment, especially as it relates to compelled identification? We’re hoping you’ve kept up to date with your classes, because you could win $2,500.

Entries are being taken through July 1 for the William W. Greenhalgh Student Writing Competition from the ABA Criminal Justice Section. The contest has been held each year to attract students to the criminal justice practice field, to encourage scholarship in this field, and to help students become involved with the CJS.

Here’s this year’s topic:

Stop and Identify. Must persons be suspected of a crime before they can be compelled to identify themselves? For example, should the Fourth Amendment permit police to order the passenger in a vehicle to produce identification during a traffic stop without any individualized, reasonable suspicion of the passenger’s wrongdoing? What about those present in a residence where a search warrant is being executed? Should they be required to identify themselves?

The Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment permits the detention, at least initially, of passengers during a traffic stop, even absent any individualized, reasonable suspicion. Some state courts have gone further, holding that passengers may be seized for the duration of the stop. Similarly, the Supreme Court has held that the seizure of those present at the location of a search warrant’s execution is reasonable, without more. Should those detained be required to identify themselves, as well? Some states have passed statutes banning “stop and identify” generally, but would the practice of requiring identification in these contexts (passengers in vehicle stops and those present at the execution of a search warrant) be consistent with the Constitution? Are there compelling reasons that could justify requiring identification in those—or other—circumstances, or is compelled identification an unreasonable search of the person seized? 

Time to put your abilities to create persuasive and original analytical reasoning backed by concrete examples and references. Entries will be judged by:

  • Writing quality
  • Analysis and legal reasoning
  • Originality
  • Quality and use of research
  • Compliance with the contest rules.

They also should be Bluebook compliant, under 4,200 words, and have the citations embedded in the text.

And if you’re graduating? No worries. As long as you’re still at an ABA-accredited law school on the day you send in your entry, you’re eligible!

The winner will receive $2,500, and possibly a trip to a CJS event with $800 in transportation costs covered. (Side note—since the contest winner will be chosen by the end of August, you won’t get to join them in Kansas City for their Spring Meeting in April to enjoy some post-Super Bowl celebrations. But you never know where you might get to travel to get your trophy!)

And just for entering, you’ll get one year’s free full membership in the Criminal Justice Section.

The deadline is July 1, 2020.

Previous winners include:

  • 2017: Olivia Castillo, University of Miami School of Law 
  • 2018: Michael Lynn, the John Marshall Law School
  • 2019: Michael dePascale Jr., Roger Williams University School of Law

Full contest details are available here.

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ABA Law Student Division The Law Student Division empowers law student by providing them with meaningful connections to practicing professionals, job resources, relevant programming, and practical skills competitions. We represent the law student community by advocating for policies that improve legal education, champion diversity, and strengthen public service.