Under Georgia law, Justices of the Peace were authorized to issue search warrants, obtaining fees for this service. A Georgia Justice of the Peace issued the search warrant used to search the defendant’s house. The defendant was convicted for possession of marihuana. The defendant questioned the constitutional fairness of a system authorizing the issuance of search warrants by interested financial parties.
Whether the pecuniary interests of an issuing magistrate violate the defendant’s protection afforded him by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments?
Yes. Issuing magistrates must be neutral and detached.
The justice who issued the warrant was not a “neutral and detached magistrate” because he had a financial interest in issuing the warrant. Georgia Justices of the Peace at that time were not salaried. Their compensation was solely based upon how many warrants they issue within a year. This pecuniary interest in issuing search warrants destroyed their neutrality
429 U.S. 245, 97 S. Ct. 546 (1977)