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Thread: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

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    Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    Source [New York Times | Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence] (Registration required )

    The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that evidence obtained from an unlawful arrest based on careless record keeping by the police may be used against a criminal defendant.

    The 5-to-4 decision revealed competing conceptions of the exclusionary rule, which requires the suppression of some evidence obtained through police misconduct, and suggested that the court’s commitment to the rule is fragile.

    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said that the exclusion of evidence should be a last resort and that judges should use a sliding scale in deciding whether particular misconduct by the police warrants suppressing the evidence they found.

    “To trigger the exclusionary rule,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “police conduct must be sufficiently deliberate that exclusion can meaningfully deter it, and sufficiently culpable that such deterrence is worth the price paid by the justice system.”

    That price, the chief justice wrote, “is, of course, letting guilty and possibly dangerous defendants go free.”

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the dissenters, argued for “a more majestic conception” of the exclusionary rule, and a more categorical one.

    The rule requires more than a cost-benefit calculus to deter police misconduct, Justice Ginsburg wrote. It also protects defendants’ rights, she said, and prevents judicial complicity in “official lawlessness.”
    I've always thought that the US's implementation of the exclusionary rule was a bit irrational. Punish the police for improper conduct, don't reward the defendant. I think that, as this ruling states, malicious misconduct should definitely trigger exclusion, but not mistakes

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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    Quote Originally Posted by Kernel Sanders View Post
    Source [New York Times | Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence] (Registration required )



    I've always thought that the US's implementation of the exclusionary rule was a bit irrational. Punish the police for improper conduct, don't reward the defendant. I think that, as this ruling states, malicious misconduct should definitely trigger exclusion, but not mistakes
    I think it is a good ruling, even though it is going to add another defense strategy - "Whether or not police misconduct was intentional". The defendant will still get his day in court, and police officers will have to submit to cross examination on that issue.

    We should always make the system pay for bad conduct, but should never reward a defendant based on honest mistakes by the police. Some will say that the ruling gives the police an out, but I disagree. Not many officers are going to want to risk being prosecuted for perjury.

    On the whole, this is a fairly balanced decision, but I am not sure that I like the "sliding scale", as it can be pretty subjective. But if that is the best the courts can do, it is still better than letting criminals back out on the streets.
    Last edited by danarhea; 01-15-09 at 01:20 AM.
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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    I have mixed feelings.

    My primary concern is this removes the biggest reason police have to follow the letter of the law - procedural or other mistakes would jeopardize a case.

    I guess in the end I have to question why we need to tinker with the dynamics. I can understand when advances in technology or the like cloud issues forcing tough decisions but this is simply a reconsideration of how to handle evidence gained improperly.

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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    I find the ruling to be absurd.

    The defendant should have the right to have evidence presented against them only if it was collected appropriately.
    To allow evidence that has been collected from an unlawful arrest makes the evidence tainted as well as unlawful. Fruit of the poisonous tree.

    As it stands right now, a search warrant can be issued with your name, and your neighbors address on it and then be executed at your neighbors residence or vice versa and it is just a simple mistake but they still get to use whatever is collected against the person who wasn't even intended to be covered by the warrant.
    Which is totally different from stumbling upon unlawful activity.

    If but for the mistake, they wouldn't have the evidence, then it she be tossed.


    This idea that the police are somehow punished or suffer by evidence not being admitted is totally ridiculous.
    That whole idea should be thrown out of the courts and their decisions because their is no punishment or suffering they receive.

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    Count Smackula
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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    This ruling is terrible. The case involved a man being arrested based on a warrant that was not valid because of an error in a database. His constitutional rights were violated during an unlawful search and seizure. The person responsible for the mistake should be punished, and any evidence against obtained during the illegal search tossed out. The 4th amendment doesn't read

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.except if some idiot in the government screws up
    This ruling rewards incompetence in police action, instead of punishing it. Furthermore, it create incentive for "mistakes" in order to bypass 4th amendment protections.

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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    This is a great ruling. We let people get away with crimes because of minor foul ups, simple mistakes.. that's stupid. "Oh hey we know you killed your wife and kids, but hey, the clerk filed the paperwork wrong, and the database was screwed up so all the evidence is tossed, here ya go sir, sorry for your trouble case dismissed!"

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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    Quote Originally Posted by MrVicchio View Post
    This is a great ruling. We let people get away with crimes because of minor foul ups, simple mistakes.. that's stupid. "Oh hey we know you killed your wife and kids, but hey, the clerk filed the paperwork wrong, and the database was screwed up so all the evidence is tossed, here ya go sir, sorry for your trouble case dismissed!"
    I don't remember, who was it that said something like, "It is better that 100 guilty men go free than to imprison one innocent man"?
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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    Quote Originally Posted by MrVicchio View Post
    ... We let people get away with crimes because of minor foul ups, simple mistakes.. ...
    Sorry, that is an inaccurate perception.

    This is simple: If the government wants it's people to follow the laws than it should also follow the laws instead of creating exceptions to get around them.

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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    Quote Originally Posted by MrFungus420 View Post
    I don't remember, who was it that said something like, "It is better that 100 guilty men go free than to imprison one innocent man"?
    Except that this isn't that sort of matter. Sorry. Cops are people too, and occasionally, mistakes happen. That being said, dismissing a case or evidence because of minor foul ups, snafu's and honest mistakes dumb.

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    Re: Supreme Court Eases Limits on Evidence

    Quote Originally Posted by Kernel Sanders View Post
    I've always thought that the US's implementation of the exclusionary rule was a bit irrational. Punish the police for improper conduct, don't reward the defendant.
    How do you propose to do that? Prosecutors don't like to charge cops with crimes...especially when there's a chance that they'll lose. They need the cops as allies. That's why most cases of police brutality get swept under the rug.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kernel Sanders
    I think that, as this ruling states, malicious misconduct should definitely trigger exclusion, but not mistakes
    I agree in part, but I think it depends on the mistake. If it was obviously just an honest, minor mistake then I don't necessarily believe it should necessitate exclusion. However, if it's the type of "mistake" that people will make over and over again as long as there aren't any consequences for it, then it most definitely should.
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