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The Indiana Law Library Blog

99 Problems and the Fourth Amendment

If you have heard Jay-Z’s song 99 Problems, you know it is about a true incident that occurred in 1994 when he was pulled over for a seemingly arbitrary traffic speed enforcement. The suggestion is that the cop’s use of traffic laws was a mere pretext for searching his car, as he fit the profile for a drug smuggler.

The song is pregnant with Fourth Amendment issues, particularly the question, “When can you use a traffic stop to search for drugs?” A lot can be gleaned from the lyrics, both truths and inaccuracies. It is perhaps no surprise then, that Jay-Z’s lyrics can be used to gain a better understanding of Criminal Law.

In a line-by-line analysis, Southwestern Law School Law Professor Caleb Mason (in his Saint Louis University Law Journal article, “Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading With Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps”) offers a fantastic and enjoyable explanation of this area of law using the lyrics as a touchstone. For those of you who are interested in pop culture representations of criminal justice, you will love the examination given by this writer.

By Jen Kulka (Library Intern & Guest Blogger)

New Social Media for the Law Library!

The Law Library now has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts!  In addition to information, we will also be using these pages for fun.   Like us on Facebook and see historical photos of the Law Library or get a jump on useful legal resources.  Follow us on Twitter for important library announcements!  Both will also tie in with our YouTube channel, where a new video was just added.  In this one a Young Timmy is learns all about how helpful indexes can be with the help of an ever patient and condescending 1950’s narrator.  Go check these new pages out!