Advanced students increasingly display an appetite and aptitude for empirical legal scholarship. A recent paper by David K. Kessler (Harvard Law School, class of 2009), forthcoming in The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Jan. 2009), illustrates this trend and presents results from an empirical test of the Supreme Court's standard for identifying a seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
Drawing on a survey of 406 randomly selected Boston residents, Kessler concludes that "people would not feel free to end their encounters with police. By the Court's standard, respondents would be seized in both scenarios.... The data also show that knowledge of one's legal right to end the encounter with the police would not make people feel free to leave, and that women and people under twenty-five would feel less free than would men and people over twenty-five. This initial empirical evidence suggests the need to re-think the current seizure standard."