Exclusionary Rule by the Supreme Court Case Study

Pages: 5 (1735 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: High School  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … Exclusionary Rule by the U.S. Supreme Court

Exclusionary Rule by the Supreme Court:

As a nation governed by the law, the United States uses her constitution and its amendments as the basic way of regulating the life of its citizens. The U.S. Constitution is a dynamic document that undergoes several reviews and amendments constantly in order to improve governance. The U.S. Supreme Court is the main body in the judiciary mandated with the task of reviewing the country's constitution. Generally, the review process of the Supreme Court involves reinterpreting the Constitution and transforming regulations that govern the behaviors of all officers. Therefore, it's important for these officers to constantly review their organizational directives and rules based on the ongoing changes in the law.

US Supreme Court and Regulation of Police Behavior:

The United States Supreme Court has been a critical part of the judicial system that has made significant impacts on the police behaviors through its policy of judicial review. The court began impact the way police perform their jobs as early as 1914 and has continued to regulate police behavior through rulings in several cases. For instance, it regulated how police should carry out searches and seizure in 1914 in the ruling in Weeks vs. Unites States and its ruling in Brown vs. Mississippi in 1936 regarding unconstitutional police interrogation.

Generally, criminal justice cases at the Supreme Court mainly focus on creating a balance between the rights of the person and the rights of the society (Dempsey & Forst, 2011, p. 181). Since balancing these goals is always difficult because of the conflicting aspects, the Supreme Court experiences significant challenges in making its rulings. These difficulties are also fueled by the natural inconsistency between protection of the person's rights and the rights of the society. Actually, having unlimited rights of individuals contributed to the likelihood of restricting the rights of the society to be safe from criminal activities. On the other hand, having unlimited rights of the society that guarantee safety from crime is likely to result in giving up the rights of individuals.

In contrast, the Supreme Court hear cases on police matters regarding appeals from people subjected to police actions like arrests, search and seizure, and custodial interrogation. In such cases, the judges decide whether these police actions have infringed the constitutional rights of the individual. This process involves interpretation of the amendments made to the constitution while rulings in landmark cases are likely to bring changes in police procedures. In order to ensure that the constitutional rights of individuals are not violated by police actions, the Supreme Court uses the exclusionary rule.

The Exclusionary Rule:

While this rule is not a part of the United States Constitution, it's an interpretation of the Fourth Amendment by the Supreme Court that states that evidence collected in violation of the constitution cannot be used in a court against the defendant. This rule is regarded as a judicial construction that was created by the court out of necessity since it viewed as the only means of enforcing protections of the Fourth Amendment. As a result, evidence seized in breach of constitutional policies is suppressed since it's not permitted to be used in court. The suppression of such evidence originates from the purpose of the exclusionary rule, which is to prevent police from misconduct ("Evaluation of the Exclusionary Rule," n.d.).

Though it cannot be used by the prosecution in attempts to prove its case, illegally seized evidence may be permitted during rebuttal in efforts to determine the credibility of the witness. In some cases, this kind of evidence may be admissible in civil courts and grand jury hearings.

Notably, there are three major exceptions to this rule that are necessary to trigger the exclusionary rule in a particular case. In some cases, the illegally seized evidence can be allowed when the situation meets the three elements that are required to prompt the exclusionary rule. These exceptions include Independence Source Doctrine where evidence is seized in two distinct ways with the first one being legal while the second seizure of the same evidence is legal and the Inevitable Discovery Doctrine in which evidence is seized in two different ways with only one being physical. The third exception is that of Good Faith where a police officer obtains a warrant from a magistrate and uses it to seize evidence.

Use of the Exclusionary Rule in Various Cases:

The history and development of the exclusionary rule can be attributed to its use in various cases by the Supreme Court. This rule was first applied to the federal government by the United States Supreme Court in 1914 in the Weeks vs. United States case. Its application in this case is largely considered as the origin of the development and history of the exclusionary rule. During the period when this case was filed, the Bill of Rights was regarded as a concept that only applied to the federal government since it was only applicable to federal agents and judges in the federal court ("The Exclusionary Rule," n.d.).

The premise of the rule in this case is the concept that when police use excessive force beyond their constitutional authority in performing a search, then the search must be null and void. In this ruling, the Court excluded papers collected through a warrantless search because of the idea that if the papers were admissible into court, they will affect the value of the Fourth Amendment. Since many prosecutions were conducted at the state level, they were relatively insignificant on the basis of criminal prosecutions. Weeks' ruling marked the beginning of regulation of how police should carry out searches and seizures by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Weeks' ruling was a reflection of judicial activism that requires Justices to be active and seek after policy goals. As a result, judges should attempt to develop a good society depending on their visions because they believe that the law is merely policy as judicial activists. The decision is also a representation of judicial activism because the Supreme Court essentially created a law that is not within the Constitution (Woodfin, 2009). As a result, Weeks vs. U.S. ruling contributed to the emergence of another form of police misconduct that is commonly known as silver platter doctrine. Federal prosecutors were permitted to use tainted evidence gathered by state police officers and seized through irrational searches and seizures for as long the evidence was gathered without federal participation and handed over to federal officers.

The application of the rule in the Weeks vs. U.S. case resulted in its use in other subsequent cases like the Rochin vs. California in 1952. This was a landmark case in the development of the rule as police entered Mr. Rochin's home without a warrant to seize evidence. Upon seeing what was suspected as narcotics in his mouth, the police officers tried to extract the narcotics from him forcefully. As these officers failed to extract the substance, they brought him to the hospital where his stomach was pumped and produced two capsules as evidence of unlawful drugs resulting in the conviction and sentencing of Rochin to 60 days imprisonment.

However, the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court because the forceful seizure of evidence was regarded as a violation of the due process clause in the Fourth Amendment. Unlike in Weeks, the ruling of Rochin vs. California didn't make the exclusionary rule applicable to all cases at the state level. This is largely because the exclusionary rule became applicable to cases of extreme, serious, or shocking police misconduct. Similar to the Weeks vs. United States ruling, the case extended the application and use of the exclusionary rule.

The other significant development of the rule is its use in Mapp vs. Ohio in 1961 where police officers entered a house without a warrant on the belief that a bombing suspect was hiding out in his friend's house. Through searching the house, these officers found and seized pornography material that was used by prosecutors to charge the homeowner for possessing obscene material. As this case found its way to the Supreme Court, the Court used it as a major step in incorporating the exclusionary rule and applying to the states. This was mainly based on the argument that law enforcement officers should abide by the rules without being permitted to benefit from their own illegal actions. As compared to the other cases, Mapp vs. Ohio case contributed to extending the exclusionary rule to state courts.

Reasonable Searches:

Reasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement officers are primarily made up of two main concepts. First a reasonable search and seizure occurs when these officers have probable cause to believe that evidence of a person's involvement in a crime can be found and a judge issues a search warrant. Secondly, the search and seizure is reasonable if the specific conditions justify the search without a warrant first being issued ("Understanding Search and Seizure Law," n.d.). To ensure this, the Fourth Amendment governs… [END OF PREVIEW]

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