Legal Writing 6-2

A paralegal who can write accurate detailed briefs is invaluable to an attorney. Thus, it is essential that you develop the legal research and writing skills to become an effective brief writer.

Throughout this course, we have continued to develop your legal research and writing skills. For this assignment, you will have one last opportunity to apply everything that you have learned regarding legal resources, and the steps of the research process, to brief a case.

Review the scenario and fact pattern below, then, brief the case indicated at the bottom of the page (United States v. Chanthasouxat.) This scenario can also be found on page 375 of your text.

Drugs in the Car Scenario:

Joshua Smeek accepted a ride back to college with two acquaintances. During the drive, they were pulled over by a police officer who claimed the window tinting on their car was too dark. After the driver consented to a search of the car, the officer discovered illegal drugs. While the search was proceeding, the three college students were seated in the backseat of the patrol car where their conversation was recorded. The three were arrested after the officer found the drugs.

Joshua knew nothing about the drugs and wanted to defend himself against the pending federal charges of possession of illegal drugs. Joshua wondered whether the car stop was constitutional because no violation of any traffic ordinance supported the stop. He wanted to know if the federal statute imposing a ten-year minimum prison term for certain drug offenses applies to the non-crack substance found in the car. Joshua was unsure whether the police officer had the right to tape what he said in the back of the patrol car.

If you were to research Joshua’s case, you might discover primary sources such as United States v. Chanthasouxat, 342 F.3d 1271 (11th Cir. 2003), a federal case discussing the constitutionality of a traffic stop unsupported by a traffic violation, DePierre v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 2225 (2011), and federal eavesdropping statutes. Research also discovered information from a secondary source concerning search and seizure.

Appendix M of your text contains this information.

Chanthasouxat discusses the constitutionality of an officer stopping a vehicle on the misimpression that the driver violated a traffic ordinance and whether the federal eavesdropping statutes allow a police officer to tape-record the suspects’ conversations while seated in the back of a patrol car. The issue in DePierre was whether the federal statute imposing a minimum ten-year prison term should be applied to DePierre. DePierre argued that the statute was limited to offenses involving crack cocaine and could not be applied to a suspect possessing cocaine in its basic form.

Chapter 2 of your text (page 30) contains the Joshua Smeek search and seizure problem; Chapter 2 also contains a discussion of whether the federal eavesdropping statutes and federal case law allow a police officer to tape-record the suspects’ conversations while seated in the back of a patrol car.

Chapter 4 (pages 104-114) contains DePierre v. United States. Chapter 5 contains an explanation of the eavesdropping statutes and Appendix L contains the text of the statutes.


The following are potentially relevant primary sources for resolving the Joshua Smeek search and seizure problem:

  1. U.S. Const. amend. IV.
  2. DePierre v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 2225 (2011).
  3. 18 U.S.C.A. § 2510 (West 2000 & Supp. 2010).
  4. 18 U.S.C.A. § 2511 (West 2000 & Supp. 2010).
  5. 18 U.S.C.A. § 2515 (West 2000).
  6. United States v. Chanthasouxat, 342 F.3d 1271 (11th Cir. 2003).

Read Chanthasouxat and write a case brief of the case.

Your assignment should be at least two pages long. All sources should be cited in Bluebook format within the body of the case brief.

If you need formatting assistance, remember you can always access the Legal Writing Resources Page.

Submit your case brief by Sunday, 11:59PM (Mountain).

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