Rush Atkinson '10 publishes article on Fourth Amendment in Georgetown Law Journal

Rush AtkinsonRush Atkinson ’10, currently clerking for Judge Julia Smith Gibbons of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit before beginning work in the Department of Justice’s National Security Division in the fall, published an article, “The Bilateral Fourth Amendment and the Duties of Law-Abiding Persons,” in the Georgetown Law Journal this month.

Atkinson wrote the article as a paper during his 3L year while researching some of the foundational economic analyses of tort law for Lewis Kornhauser, Alfred B. Engelberg Professor of Law. At the same time Atkinson was enrolled in Criminal Procedure: Police Investigations with Barry Friedman, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law.

Realizing that some of the insights gained from his research for Kornhauser could help describe some of the nuances concerning the Fourth Amendment and law regulating police investigations, Atkinson emailed Friedman, who urged him to pursue the topic. Friedman continued to provide especial encouragement as Atkinson wrote the paper; Friedman, Kornhauser, and Professor Oren Bar-Gill all read and commented on drafts. Through Atkinson’s Lawrence Lederman/Milbank Fellowship in law and economics, he was able to present the paper for further feedback and refinement during the most recent academic year.

In the article, Atkinson examines the Fourth Amendment’s protection of the innocent only from “unreasonable” searches, considering why the safeguard is thus limited. He concludes that both the searcher and the person searched have incentive to avoid mistaken searches—the former for legal reasons, and the latter to avoid negative incidents.  The previous focus on the Fourth Amendment’s effects on police and criminals, he says, has left the implications for the relationship between police and innocent persons relatively unexplored.

Posted on June 28, 2011