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Criminal Procedure - Outline Part 19

By Collin B. Hardee

Download the PDF version of this outline

<< Part 18 | Part 20 >>

Good Faith Exception to Exclusionary Rule

United States v. Leon (1984) →

  • ISSUE: Whether the 4th Amendment exclusionary rule should be modified so as not to bar the admission of evidence seized in reasonable, good-faith reliance on a search warrant that is subsequently held to be defective?
  • Deference to Magistrate’s Determination of Probable Cause for Warrant → the preference for warrants is most appropriately effectuated by according “great deference” to a magistrate’s determination with three (3) exceptions:
    1. Knowing or reckless falsity of the affidavit on which the probable cause determination was made (Franks v. Delaware);
    2. the magistrate purport to “perform his ‘neutral and detached’ function and not serve merely as a rubber stamp for the police.” A magistrate failing to “manifest that neutrality and detachment demanded of a judicial officer when presented with a warrant application” and who acts instead as “an adjunct law enforcement officer” cannot provide valid authorization for an otherwise unconstitutional search (Lo-Ji Sales Inc v. NY)
    3. Reviewing courts will not defer to a warrant based on an affidavit that does not “provide the magistrate with a substantial basis for determining the existence of probable cause.” “Sufficient information must be presented to the magistrate to allow that official to determine probable cause; his action cannot be a mere ratification of the bare conclusions of others.”
  • Purpose of Exclusionary Rule – designed to deter police misconduct rather than to punish the errors of judges and magistrates
  • Birth of Good Faith Exception – “Even assuming that the rule effectively deters some police misconduct and provides incentives for the law enforcement profession as a whole to conduct itself in accord with the 4th Amendment, it cannot be expected, and should not be applied, to deter objectively reasonable law enforcement activity . . . This is particularly true when an officer acting with objective good faith has obtained a search warrant from a judge or magistrate and acted within its scope . . . It is the MAGISTRATE’S responsibility to determine whether the officer’s allegations establish probable cause. An officer cannot be expected to question the magistrate’s probable-cause determination or his judgment that the form of the warrant is technically sufficient [and] penalizing the officer for the magistrate’s error, rather than his own, cannot logically contribute to the deterrence of 4th Amendment violations.”
  • Rule → Evidence obtained pursuant to a facially valid warrant that an officer received in good faith from a judge or magistrate, which is later determined to be invalid need not be suppressed at trial UNLESS (4 exceptions):
    1. Officer lied (or reckless disregard of truth) in affidavit;
    2. Magistrate wholly abandoned judicial role (look for bias magistrate facts);
    3. “Bare bones” affidavit (so lacking in indicia of Probable Cause) (quantity is not the same as quality, but short affidavit probable bare bones); and
    4. Facially deficient because clearly lacks particularity, i.e., fails to particularize the place to be searched or the things to be seized that the executing officers cannot reasonably presume it to be valid

Other Applications of Good Faith Exception:

Hudson v. Michigan (2006) → Even if on particular facts the 4th Amendment requires the police to knock and announce themselves, their failure to do so will NOT require that any evidence they end up seizing be excluded from the defendant’s criminal trial; even if the D can show that certain evidence would not have been acquired by the police but for their failure to wait for the door to be answered, the evidence will still be admissible against the D

  • Issue: Whether violation of the knock-and-announce rule requires the suppression of all evidence found in the search?
  • History of Exclusionary Rule
    • Wilson v. Arkansas → the knock-and-announce rule is a command of the 4th Amendment, as well as a common-law principle
    • Weeks v. US → adopted the federal exclusionary rule for evidence that was unlawfully seized from a home without a warrant in violation of the 4th Amendment
    • Mapp v. Ohio → applied the exclusionary rule to the states through the 14th Amendment
    • Court rejected the “indiscriminate application” of the rule, and have held it to be applicable only “where its remedial objectives are thought most efficaciously served,” i.e., “where its deterrence benefits outweigh its ‘substantial societal costs.’”
  • Attenuation
    • Exclusion may not be premised on the mere fact that a constitutional violation was a “but-for” cause of obtaining evidence. Our cases show that but-for causality is only a necessary, not a sufficient, condition for suppression . . . But even if the illegal entry here could be characterized as a but-for cause of discovering what was inside, we have “never held that evidence is ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ simply because “it would not have come to light but for the illegal actions of the police.’” Rather, but-for cause, or “causation in the logical sense alone,” can be too attenuated to justify exclusion.”
    • “Attenuation can occur when the causal connection is remote. Attenuation also occurs when, even give n a direct causal connection, the interest protected by the constitutional guarantee that has been violated would not be served by suppression of the evidence obtained.”
  • Interests Protected by Knock-and-Announce
    • “Interests protected by the knock-and-announce requirement are quite different [than cases excluding the fruits of unlawful warrantless searches] – and do not include the shielding of potential evidence from the government’s eyes”:
      1. Protection of human life and limb, b/c an unannounced entry may provoke violence in supposed self-defense by the surprised resident;
      2. Protection of property – Breaking a house absent an announcement would penalize someone “’who did not know of the process, of which, if he had notice, it is to be presumed that he would obey it’.” (Gives individual opportunity to obey the law)
      3. Protects those elements of privacy and dignity that can be destroyed by a sudden entrance (it assures the opportunity to collect oneself before answering the door)
    • What the knock-and-announce rule has NEVER protected is one’s interest in preventing the government from seeing or taking evidence described in a warrant
    • If the interests that WERE violated have nothing to do with the seizure of the evidence, the exclusionary rule is inapplicable

Herring v. US (2009) → If the police reasonably (but mistakenly) believe that there is an arrest warrant outstanding for a particular suspect and arrest him, evidence found during a search incident to this wrongful arrest will be admissible, at least where any police misconduct consist of “nonrecurring and attenuated negligence”

  • Non-Systemic Negligence by Police – SC extended the exception for good-faith reliance on an apparently-outstanding arrest warrant to a situation in which the error was committed by the police department
  • Reasoning – Since the error was unintentional, and arose from “nonrecurring and attenuated negligence” by the police, suppressing the evidence would not have a deterrent effect on police misconduct, and therefore should not be required
    • The exclusionary rule existed only to deter official wrongdoing; “the abuses that gave rise to the exclusionary rule featured intentional conduct that was patently unconstitutional.”
    • An error arising from “nonrecurring and attenuated negligence,” should not trigger the exclusionary rule; the rule should only be triggered by “police conduct that is sufficiently deliberate that exclusion can meaningfully deter it, and sufficiently culpable that such deterrence is worth the price paid by the justice system.
    • The exclusionary rule serves to deter “deliberate, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct, or in some instances recurring or systemic negligence
  • Objective Test – Whether a reasonably well-trained arresting officer would have known that the search was illegal in light of all the circumstances
    • If the police have been shown to be reckless in maintaining a warrant system, or to have knowingly made false entries to lay the groundwork for future false arrests, exclusion would certainly be justified . . . should such misconduct cause a 4th Amendment violation
    • If a case where systemic errors were demonstrated, it might be reckless for officers to rely on an unreliable warrant system
  • Conclusion – When police mistakes are the result of negligence such as that described here, rather than systemic error or reckless disregard of constitutional requirements, any marginal deterrence does not pay its way.
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