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Law professor studies '99 Problems' for legal accuracy

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While Watch The Throne continued to prove that Jay-Z remains at the very top of his game, we're willing to argue that nothing he's done since 99 Problems has truly captured that song's weep-inducing greatness.

But while we've embarrassingly rapped along to the lyrics time and time again, we've never really studied the song for its legal accuracy. We haven't had the time and, to be honest, we've never really been that bothered but lucky for us, someone else has done it all for us.

Caleb Mason, an associate professor of law at Southwestern University, decided to publish a paper dissecting the lyrics to discover whether Shawn Carter's knowledge of the law is on point or not.

On the whole, Mason wrote that he was mostly accurate, apart from one glaring issue. Here are some of the best parts of his extensive piece:

Do you know what I'm stopping you for?

This is an important part of any traffic-stop colloquy that should be memorialised by the prudent driver, ideally on a cell phone, unless you are (unluckily) in one of the thirteen states that require two-party consent for audio recording. Memorialization of the stated basis for the stop is important because the government must be able to show that the stop was based on probable cause, and you’ll be able to put the cop on the stand. So if you later develop evidence that you were not in fact doing what the officer said you were at the time, the officer will either have to fight the evidence, or else come up with a different basis for the stop, in which case he’ll have to contradict his contemporaneous explanation.

Well, my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk and the back, and I know my rights, so you go’n need a warrant for that . . .

If this Essay serves no other purpose, I hope it serves to debunk, for any readers who persist in believing it, the myth that locking your trunk will keep the cops from searching it. Based on the number of my students who arrived at law school believing that if you lock your trunk and glove compartment, the police will need a warrant to search them, I surmise that it’s even more widespread among the lay public. But it’s completely, 100% wrong. There is no warrant requirement for car searches.

We’ll see how smart you are when the K-9s come . . .

If the police have a dog ready to sniff your car when they pull you over for a traffic violation, you have no basis for objecting to the sniff. And, of course, if the dog does alert to the car, that is probable cause, so the police can then search the whole car. That’s what the officer wanted to do with Jay-Z, but the K-9 unit wasn’t there when he was pulled over, and was late arriving. And this brings us to the final legal issue implicated by the song: excessive prolongation of a traffic stop. A traffic stop is a legitimate seizure of the person, for purposes of investigating the violation of the traffic law and writing up the citation. But it cannot be prolonged for longer than reasonably necessary to complete that legitimate activity.

You can read the whole article here.

[via Gawker]

(Image: Rex Features)

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