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The imminent demise of the e-rule

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Stegyre, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. Stegyre

    Stegyre Expatriate

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    After hearing this story on NPR yesterday, and checking the first two pages of OT today, I'm a little surprised that no one has started a thread on this, yet.

    A 5-4 Supreme Court upheld the Michigan court's decision not to exclude illegally-obtained evidence. This is the Exclusionary Rule of U.S. Criminal law is the rule that the prosecution cannot profit from the "fruit of the poisonous tree": if evidence was illegally obtained, it is excluded from trial. While the majority decision does not expressly rescind the e-rule, I agree with the commentators that it essentially guts it.

    Now, whether or not that is a good thing is another question, and open to a debate that I thought would already be happening here.

    For a couple of news stories summarizing the decision:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationw...us16jun16,0,4782237.story?coll=la-home-nation
    and
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5490205

    For the decision, itself:
    http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/05pdf/04-1360.pdf
     
  2. ybbor

    ybbor Will not change his avata

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    it doesn't seem as bad as you make it sound. They still had a warrent, and the court seemed to say that it was situation-based.
     
  3. EdwardTking

    EdwardTking Deity

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    The supreme court decision seems very reasonable to me.
     
  4. Stegyre

    Stegyre Expatriate

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    Oh, I didn't say that it was bad:
    And I'll concede that there are grounds to distinguish the decision. We'll really have to wait and see how this decision plays itself out in the lower courts, and what SCOTUS does the next time the issue is before them. But this decision reminds us that the e-rule has not always been with us, and may not always be with us.
     
  5. ybbor

    ybbor Will not change his avata

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    yes, but you did say

    I think we can all agree than acceptance of illegal evidence would be a very bad thing
     
  6. EdwardTking

    EdwardTking Deity

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    Not sure that I even agree with that. If evidence is good, it may be used.

    Problem is that illegally obtained evidence (e.g. under torture or from paid informer) is not infrequently false and therefore rightly regarded as suspect.

    But what I dislike is the judges deciding that any irregularity means
    the trial must be stopped or the jury's verdict overturned.

    This means that all the defence lawyer has to do is find an irregularity
    and the criminal goes free to enjoy their profits and commit further crime.
    And if it is a complex case with a lot of history and evidence and the
    criminal is rich or has embezzelled enough to pay a set of top lawyers,
    then it becomes exceedingly difficult to secure a just conviction.


    The question should always remain. Are we certain of guilt?
     
  7. ybbor

    ybbor Will not change his avata

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    but without making illegally obtained evidence inadmitable, what is the point of making it illegal? trust in the government? Why even have regulations then?
     
  8. EdwardTking

    EdwardTking Deity

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    The point of making it illegal would be to
    support civil suites and disciplinary action.

    So if the police break down my door for a search without a warrant,
    then i can sue them for a new door and they can fund that by
    deducting it from the errant policeperson's wages.

    There is no reason why I should be acquitted for murdering umpeen
    people with a chain saw and stacking their bodies in the fridge merely
    because the wrong type of judge had signed the search warrant,
    or because the policeman had waited for 3 rather than 20 seconds.
     
  9. ybbor

    ybbor Will not change his avata

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    but what's to stop the chief of police from letting the errant policeman gte off with a warning while the government gets the evidence it needs in its case against you and your anti-government newspaper?
     
  10. Stegyre

    Stegyre Expatriate

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    Actually, that's where the civil lawsuits make a lot of sense. (A 1983 action, for example.) It's not the newspapers that need worry about the loss of this rule, but the drug dealer, thief, etc., who is not likely to get a welcome reception from a jury when he sues for the 4th Amendment violation. Admittedly, that's not a very sympathetic group; on the other hand, even criminals have Constitutional (and other) rights.

    Personally, I'm ambivalent: I think good arguments can be made both for and against the e-rule. Some of our non-U.S. attorneys (such as FredLC) can verify, but I believe the U.S. may be the only nation with the e-rule, and yet I don't think residents of other countries are so much worse off on that account. (In fact, I suspect a lot of them look at us rather strangely on account of it.)
     
  11. Shadylookin

    Shadylookin master debater

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    I don't see how this effects it at all. They had a legal search warrant and i have never heard of a law where police must announce there presence and wait 20 seconds(if there is such a law then they should have to exclude it, but i've never heard of it).
     
  12. Ayatollah So

    Ayatollah So the spoof'll set you free

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    Justice Kennedy had it right. The exclusionary rule should stay, but it should not become a get out of jail free card when the degree of the violation is not large and the evidence would have been found had the proper procedure been used.
     
  13. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    i think evidence is evidence, the e-rule is just a technicality to get more guys off the hook. I mean, its still evidence. it makes no sense to say " you cant use this bloody knife with the guy's fingerprints on it and the blood of the victim because it wasn't obtained in a legal way." sounds crazy, right? because thats what it is
     
  14. Elrohir

    Elrohir RELATIONAL VALORIZATION

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    I'm afraid I don't see the problem. If the cops busted into someone's house without a warrant, the judges should nail their hides on a wall. But as far as I can tell, they had a warrant, and entered legally. So they are now required to not only get a warrant, but knock politely and wait while you flush your stash?

    As long as they get a legal warrant, I don't really see why they should have to wait at the front door. As long as they pay for any splintered doorframes, of course.
     
  15. malclave

    malclave King

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    From the LA Times article linked in the OP:
    If the LA Times article is linked, and the "knock and announce" rule usually requires the police to wait a period of time (usually around 20 seconds), then it seems to be not a hard-and-fast "rule", but a guideline. Since the evidence was recovered with a legally obtained search warrant, I think that ruling it to be admissible is the correct thing to do.
     

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