After a search of John Connally’s house, marijuana was seized based on a search warrant issued by a local justice of the peace. Connally was then indicted, tried, and convicted in the Superior Court of Georgia in Walker County for possession of marijuana in violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.
Connally appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of Georgia, and later to the U.S. Supreme Court, on the basis that the justice of the peace who issued the warrant was not a neutral party because he had an interest in issuing the warrant. Georgia Code allowed a justice of the peace to charge $5 for issuing a warrant. If no warrant was issued, they could receive no fee. The fee was given to the county, which then paid the fee to the issuing justice.
The Supreme Court held that the Georgia statute was not valid because of its linkage of receiving compensation for warrants granted. The decision relied on the precedent set in Tumey v. Ohio, which held that an officer of the court could not issue a warrant when he or she had direct gain in the manner. The justice of the peace stood to benefit financially by issuing a warrant, which, therefore, might cloud his judgment when deciding whether to issue or deny the warrant. The issuance of this search warrant was found to be in violation of the protections provided by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
References and Further Reading
Cases and Statutes Cited
See also Due Process; Impartial Decisionmaker