At Florida Coastal School of Law
1. The Fourth Amendmentand the “Exclusionary Rule”
For the more than 100 years after its ratification, the Fourth Amendment was of little value to criminal defendants because evidence seized by law enforcement in violation of the warrant or reasonableness requirements was still admissible during the defendant’s prosecution. The Supreme Court dramatically changed Fourth Amendment jurisprudence when it handed down its decision in Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 (1914). Weeks involved the appeal of a defendant who had been convicted based on evidence that had been seized by a federal agent without a warrant or other constitutional justification. The Supreme Court reversed the defendant’s conviction, thereby creating what is known as the “exclusionary rule.” In Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961), the Supreme Court made the exclusionary rule applicable to the states.
Designed to deter police misconduct, the exclusionary rule enables courts to exclude incriminating evidence from introduction at trial upon proof that the evidence was procured in contravention of a constitutional provision. The rule allows defendants to challenge the admissibility of evidence by bringing a pre-trial motion to suppress the evidence. If the court allows the evidence to be introduced at trial and the jury votes to convict, the defendant can challenge the propriety of the trial court’s decision denying the motion to suppress on appeal. If the defendant succeeds on appeal, however, the Supreme Court has ruled that double jeopardy principles do not bar retrial of the defendant because the trial court’s error did not go to the question of guilt or innocence (see Lockhart v. Nelson, 488 U.S. 33 ). Nonetheless, obtaining a conviction in the second trial would be significantly more difficult if the evidence suppressed by the exclusionary rule is important to the prosecution.
A companion to the exclusionary rule is the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. Under this doctrine, a court may exclude from trial not only evidence that itself was seized in violation of the Constitution but also any other evidence that is derived from an illegal search. For example, suppose a defendant is arrested for kidnapping and later confesses to the crime. If a court subsequently declares that the arrest was unconstitutional, the confession will also be deemed tainted and ruled inadmissible at any prosecution of the defendant on the kidnapping charge.
2. Negotiable Instruments
(a) Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d), “negotiable instrument” means an unconditional promise or order to pay a fixed amount of money, with or without interest or other charges described in the promise or order, if it:
- is payable to bearer or to order at the time it is issued or first comes into possession of a holder;
- is payable on demand or at a definite time; and
- does not state any other undertaking or instruction by the person promising or ordering payment to do any act in addition to the payment of money, but the promise or order may contain
- (i) an undertaking or power to give, maintain, or protect collateral to secure payment,
- (ii) an authorization or power to the holder to confess judgment or realize on or dispose of collateral, or
- (iii) a waiver of the benefit of any law intended for the advantage or protection of an obligor.
(b) “Instrument” means a negotiable instrument.
(d) A promise or order other than a check is not an instrument if, at the time it is issued or first comes into possession of a holder, it contains a conspicuous statement, however expressed, to the effect that the promise or order is not negotiable or is not an instrument governed by this Article.
(e) An instrument is a “note” if it is a promise and is a “draft” if it is an order. If an instrument falls within the definition of both “note” and “draft,” a person entitled to enforce the instrument may treat it as either.
(f) “Check” means (i) a draft, other than a documentary draft, payable on demand and drawn on a bank or (ii) a cashier’s check or teller’s check. An instrument may be a check even though it is described on its face by another term, such as “money order.”
(g) “Cashier’s check” means a draft with respect to which the drawer and drawee are the same bank or branches of the same bank.
(h) “Teller’s check” means a draft drawn by a bank (i) on another bank, or (ii) payable at or through a bank.
(i) “Traveler’s check” means an instrument that (i) is payable on demand, (ii) is drawn on or payable at or through a bank, (iii) is designated by the term “traveler’s check” or by a substantially similar term, and (iv) requires, as a condition to payment, a countersignature by a person whose specimen signature appears on the instrument.
(j) “Certificate of deposit” means an instrument containing an acknowledgment by a bank that a sum of money has been received by the bank and a promise by the bank to repay the sum of money. A certificate of deposit is a note of the bank.
Types of negotiable instruments
Draft: An unconditional order to pay by which the party creating the draft (the drawer) orders another party (the drawee), typically a bank, to pay money to a third party (the payee) — e.g., a check.
Check: A draft ordering a drawee bank and payable on demand.
- Time Draft: A draft payable at a time certain.
- Sight Draft: A draft payable on presentment.
Trade Acceptance: A draft that is drawn by a seller of goods ordering the buyer to pay a specified sum of money to the seller, usually at a specified future time. The buyer accepts the draft by signing and returning it to the seller.
Promissory Note: A written promise made by one person (the maker) to pay a fixed sum of money to another person (the payee) on demand or at a specified future time.
Certificate of Deposit: A note by which a bank or similar financial institution acknowledges the receipt of money from a party and promises to repay the money, plus interest, to the party on a certain date.
2 Negotiable Instruments:
An overview n a Negotiable Instrument is a:
(1) written instrument,
(2) signed by the maker or drawer of the instrument,
(3) that contains an unconditional promise or order to pay
(4) an exact sum of money (with or without interest in a specified amount or at a specified rate)
(5) on demand or at an exact future time
(6) to a specific person, or to order, or to its bearer.
SIGNATURES n For an instrument to be negotiable, it must be signed by the maker/drawer. n A signature may be any symbol made by the maker or drawer with the present intention to be a signature.
4 NEGOTIABILITY: UNCONDITIONALITY n Promise or Order: A negotiable instrument must contain an express order or promise to pay. n A mere acknowledgment of a debt is not sufficient without evidence of an affirmative undertaking on the part of the debtor to repay the debt. n The exception to this rule is a Certificate of Deposit. n Unconditionality of Promise or Order: A promise or order is conditional (and, therefore, not negotiable) if it states:
- an express condition to payment,
- that the promise or order is subject to or governed by another writing, or
- that the rights or obligations with respect to the promise or order are stated in another writing.
5 NEGOTIABILITY: A FIXED AMOUNT nThe fourth requirement of negotiability is that negotiable instruments must state a fixed amount of money. n Fixed amount means an amount that can be determined from the face of the instrument. n This requirement applies only to the principal amount of money. n The instrument can reference an outside source to determine the rate of interest. n Payable in Money means the medium of exchange authorized or adopted by the United States or foreign government as part of its currency. 6 NEGOTIABILITY: TIME FOR PAYMENT n Payment On Demand: An instrument is payable on demand, “at sight,” or “upon presentment” if it is subject to payment immediately upon being presented to the payor or drawee. n If no time for payment is specified, a negotiable instrument is presumed to be payable on demand. n Payment at a Definite Time: An instrument is payable at a definite time if it states that it is payable
- (i) on a specified date,
- (ii) within a definite period of time, or
- (iii) on a date or at a time readily ascertainable at the time the promise or order is made. n Such instruments are frequently referred to as time instruments. n Acceleration Clause: A clause that permits a payee or other holder of a time instrument to demand payment of the entire amount or balance due, with interest, if a certain event occurs, such as default in the payment of an installment when due. n Extension Clause: A clause in a time instrument that permits the date of maturity to be extended.
7 NEGOTIABILITY: PAYMENT TO WHOM n Order Instrument: A negotiable instrument that is payable “to the order of” an identified person or “to” an identifiable person “or order.” n Bearer Instrument: A negotiable instrument payable “to bearer” or to “cash,” rather than to an identifiable payee. n Bearer: The person possessing a bearer instrument. n Any instrument payable to the following is a bearer instrument:
- (i) “Payable to the order of bearer”;
- (ii) “Payable to Jane Smith or bearer”;
- (iii) “Payable to bearer”;
- (iv) “Pay cash”; or
- (v) “Pay to the order of cash.”
8 FACTORS NOT AFFECTING NEGOTIABILITY n Certain ambiguities or omissions, resolvable by applicable U.C.C. provisions and/or rules, will not make an instrument non-negotiable. For example:
- The fact that an instrument is undated does not affect its negotiability, unless the date of the instrument is necessary to understand the payment term;
- Postdating or antedating an instrument does not affect its negotiability;
- Interlineation and other written or typewritten alterations need not affect negotiability; n As with other contract terms, handwritten terms “trump” typewritten terms, and typewritten terms “trump” printed terms.
- Words “trump” figures, unless the words are ambiguous in and of themselves; and
- If the instrument fails to specify the applicable interest rate, the judgment rate of interest (defined by state statute) becomes the interest rate on the instrument.
9 TRANSFER OF INSTRUMENTS n Assignment:
Under general contract principles, a negotiable instrument may be transferred to an assignee, who then holds the instrument with all the rights of the assignor. n Negotiation: Transfer of an instrument in such a form that the transferee becomes a holder, who has at least the same rights in the instrument as the transferor, and may have more rights than the transferor. n Negotiating Order Instruments: An order instrument may be negotiated by delivery with any necessary indorsements. n Negotiating Bearer Instruments: Unlike an order instrument, a bearer instrument need not be indorsed to transfer the payee’s rights to the transferee. All that is required is delivery to the new bearer. 10 INDORSEMENTS n Indorsement: A signature, with or without additional words or statements (e.g., “for deposit only,” “payable to Jane Smith,” “payable from acct. # 000001,” etc.), made by the indorser in order to transfer his or her rights to the indorsee. n Blank Indorsement: An indorsement that specifies no particular indorsee and can consist of a mere signature. n Special Indorsement: An indorsement that indicates the specific person to whom the indorser intends to make the instrument payable — i.e., the indorsee. n Qualified Indorsement: An indorsement which disclaims any contract liability on the instrument (e.g., “without recourse”). n Restrictive Indorsement: Any indorsement on a negotiable instrument that requires the indorsee to comply with certain instructions regarding the funds involved. n Indorsement for Deposit or Collection: “For deposit only.”