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Exclusionary Rule in America: Pros and Cons

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Throughout history, we have seen various forms of injustice targeted at citizens who don’t know their rights and government officials who exploit the system. Due to this fact, there has now been a law in place that prevents the government from making use of most evidence gathered in violation of the United States Constitution. The exclusionary rule is a law that prohibits the use of lawlessly obtained evidence during a criminal trial designed to discourage police misconduct. The exclusionary rule allows courts to exclude inculpatory proof from being introduced at trial upon proof that the evidence was procured in violation of a constitutional provision. There are three major cases in which all of this sparked from with include, Weeks v. U.S, Wolf v. Colorado and Mapp v. Ohio. Each of these supreme court cases played a definitive roll in the way the criminal justice system works today.

In order to properly understand the relevance of these Supreme Court Cases, it is essential that we have a firm grasp of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment is a part of the bill of rights, added to the Constitution in 1791 to protect the American people from unlawful searched and seizures, meaning government officials cannot search your person or your house without having a warrant or probable cause as a base first, thus ensuring an extra level of security among the public. The ultimate goal of this provision is to safeguard people’s right to privacy and freedom from unreasonable intrusions by the government (Smentkowski,2019). However, the Fourth modification doesn’t guarantee protection from all searches and seizures, solely those done by the government and deemed unreasonable beneath the law. To claim violation of Fourth modification because the basis for suppressing a relevant proof, the court had long needed that the applier should prove that they were the victim of an invasion of privacy to possess a sound standing to say protection beneath the Fourth modification.

However, the Supreme Court has departed from such demand, issue of exclusion is to be determined alone upon a resolution of the substantive question whether or not the claimant’s Fourth modification rights are desecrated, that successively needs that the applier demonstrates an excusable expectation of privacy, that was willy-nilly desecrated by the govt. In general, most warrantless searches of personal premises square measure prohibited beneath the Fourth modification, unless specific exception applies. For example, a warrantless search is also lawful, if a political candidate has asked and is given consent to go looking; if the search is incident to a lawful arrest; if there’s evidence to search and there’s exigent circumstance occupation for the warrantless search. Exigent circumstances exist in things wherever a scenario wherever individuals square measure in impending danger, wherever proof faces impending destruction, or before a suspect’s impending escape.

Along with the Fourth Amendment there are other factors that are just as important to understand the exclusionary rule at its full capacity. Although laws are set in place to protect the American people, there are still regulations that the laws must follow. In this case, there are seven exception to the exclusionary rule. The Inevitable discovery rule: which includes but isn’t limited to evidence that would have been discovered through legal means. The Independent source doctrine: where evidence is encountered through an illegal search, but later discovered independently from occurrences through search. Knock and announce: this rule applies when an officer is exercising the search warrant and he or she generally does not force themselves into the residence, but instead knock and identify themselves, while waiting a reasonable amount of time for an answer. Attenuation principal: evidence may be used if the relation between evidence and the illegal method by which it was acquired is remote and lessened. Good faith exception: this includes officers who had a reasonable, “good-faith” belief that they were acting in accordance to the justice system, such as using a warrant that later is found to not have been reliable. Isolated police negligence: this does not always trigger the exclusionary rule but is enforced when police misconduct and deliberate actions were conducted. In court identification: a witness may make an in-court identification in spite of previous wrongdoing.

Weeks v. U.S was a first case that basically created the foundation for the exclusionary rule. The case includes a man by the name of Fremont Weeks, who had been known to have haul lottery tickets through the mail which was in direct violation of the criminal code (Reed 2019). Law enforcement proceeded to arrest Weeks and search his office which led to his conviction due to the evidence found. Following Weeks’ conviction, he appealed, arguing that the law had violated the Bill of Rights. He believed he had a right to be protected from illegal acts that go against his birth rights in America such as search and seizure (Duignan, 2019). The United States Supreme court justices all concurred that the search was I violation of his Fourth Amendment. Here is where we see the “fruit from the poisonous tree.” metaphor come about in reference to tainted evidence.

Furthermore, within the Wolf v. Colorado, the advocate during this case was guilty by a state court of collusion with black-market abortion. The petitioner appealed and argued that his Fourth change constitutional right to be free from misappropriated searches and seizures was profaned which any proof used against him profaned the Fourth change. The Supreme Court of the us after command that group action isn’t denied once proof obtained through associate black-market search and seizure is admitted by a state court for a state offense.

As a results of Weeks and Wolf, varieties of the rule of evidence existed in many states for several decades. In 1961, however, the rule was extended throughout the country and gained quality among criminal defendants as a possible defense.

In the year of 1957, the plaintiff Dollree Mapp had her home endured an apparent warrantless search for a bombing suspect. All of which happened after they, the defendants (the Cleveland police) forcibly entered the home. Although the officers didn’t find the suspect, officers did encounter certain books and pictured that fell under the pornographic category, and illegal in Ohio (Duignan, 2019). Mapp was convicted of violating the law on the foundation of this evidence. Hearing this case on appeal, the Ohio Supreme Court identified the illegality of the search but proceeded with the conviction on the bases of the states not being required to abide by the exclusionary rule. On June 19, 1961, the Supreme Court took it upon themselves to reverse the Ohio court’s decision and finding that the Fourth Amendment protects against “police incursion into privacy” (Duignam 2019). The U.S Supreme Court ultimately voted six to three in favor of Dollree Mapp.

I am in a relationship with a drug dealer and we live together. Neighbors have been calling in about a smell of marijuana coming from across our yard and strange cars showing up to our house. Within the next week there is two police officers are knocking at the door asking for a Jose Duarte (my boyfriend). They say they have a warrant to enter the home and search for illegal substances. When asked to see the warrant the police officers waived the paper but never actually let us see it. As they are going through the house looking through every nook and cranny they stumble across our room and into the closet where they find a jar with 4 ounces of marijuana inside. The officers proceed to arrest my boyfriend and charge him with possession.

His mother and I are looking for the best attorney money can buy to get Jose out as soon as possible. Through word of mouth from a few different friends of the family we finally find an attorney worth our while, Michael Aaronson. Upon explaining what had happened from my perspective, he would continuously interrupt to ask me questions that I know now were a key part in his process. Our attorney finished hearing everything I had explained her proceed to tell me what he could do for Jose. Attorney Aaronson began to explain that the police officers overstepped their boundaries and informed me that we have a case against the state. Once Jose Duarte’s court date arrived, we were ready to receive justice. The judge let the one of the two officers speak his piece before Jose’s attorney would present his client. The police officer explained that he had multiple call ins and informants who would express concern. These informants explained a smell of marijuana and strange vehicles engaging with Duarte. Aaronson asked the officer if they had any other reason to want to search the house other that the informants and they replied with “ No”, and when asked if they had a warrant to search the entire property, they said that it was specified to the garage.

Aaronson proceeded to state that the two officers were in violation of the Fourth Amendment due to them not presenting the warrant upon request and searching the entire house rather than what was specified on the warrant. The exclusionary rule comes into play here because they searched the entire house and the officers did find marijuana but in a way that goes directly against the constitution and the rights of the citizens of America. Now without the drugs they found they don’t have a case whatsoever. All they have left without the marijuana are some complaints from neighbors not actual probable cause or evidence. Have the marijuana thrown out of the case what’s left consist of just a man being arrest by the police.

Through the eyes that I have lived through I would say that the exclusionary rule is a safety net for all of the shameful acts that go on behind closed doors within the criminal justice system. In the case that those who are selected to serve and protect do exactly the opposite, the government has created a clause for the public to defend themselves. I believe that this rule is as hypocritical as it gets. For one, the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 yet, over one hundred and twenty years later we are still seeing the system fail us and the need to add a law to clarify. Although Weeks was well known for hauling lottery tickets, the system does not get to act unjustly, at the end of the day there is still a process that needs to be followed regardless. That is the reason the system that is in place, not only to keep rule and order but another reason for our officials not to take it upon themselves and handle situations on their terms resulting in negative outcomes or cases that backfire.

The primary advantage of the exclusionary rule is that it needs evidence of wrongdoing for somebody to expertise a research and potential seizure. While not this decree place, it’d be potential for somebody to be searched at any time, have proof analyzed in improper ways in which, and be perpetually subjected to enforcement queries relating to their conduct, albeit they need done nothing wrong. Through my experience as a Black woman in America, I have developed a rather keen sense for certain patterns of injustice. Most of which stem from the criminal justice system that has continuously let me and my people down. With that being said, I would like to say that like any educated person, I confess I love the idea behind holding the system accountable for their unjust actions. I believe that there is nothing better than a system willing to take accountability for their mistakes and move forward with an enlightened mentality, but that will never be the case in America. Time and time again we see the law taking advantage of their education, power and status within the community, leaving a sense of terror and lack of trust when it comes to government officials.

In my rather forward opinion I say yes, this rule is good for law enforcement. Although there is no way possible for us common folk to ensure the law will be enforced and carried out through the criminal justice system, I believe a standard for the law puts them where everyone else is, rather than above the law. Although those landmark Supreme Court case happened over a half a century ago, there are still forms of modern-day injustice that tie into the bases of the exclusionary rule. Over a year ago the Little Rock Police Department narcotics unit appeared to be serving each drug warrant with a no knock warrant, law-enforcement officers must show evidence that the suspect poses a risk either to the safety of police officers or of disposing the evidence if the police were to knock and announce before entering the suspect’s residence (Balko, 2019). But that evidence must be particular to each individual case. You can’t simply say all drug dealers are violent, therefore we’re going to serve all drug warrants with a no-knock raid. But that is exactly what the LRPD’s narcotics unit has been doing, and Little Rock criminal court judges have been letting it get away with it. Yes, I am in accordance with the exclusionary rule for law officials because even if they fail us, we have another option to turn to.

As far as me supporting this notion for citizens, I think that it will forever be in our countries best interest to protect their citizens. Although in Mapp v. Ohio she was convicted and later on had her case heard by the U.S Supreme Court. Despite the fact that she still had to suffer although she was a law-abiding citizen shows exactly why there is little to no confidence in the criminal justice system and why we all hesitate to act and react because even when we are minding our business, our lives are still at the discretion of the government. Again, after discussing all pros and cons, I believe it’s best to have these laws in play and have them used as the criminal justice sees fit, rather than not have any law whatsoever and live in a nation of tyranny.  

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