The Exclusionary Rule Clarified

The Exclusionary Rule Clarified


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The Exclusionary Rule Clarified

The exclusionary rule is a rule that was propagated by the Supreme Court, with the primary purpose being to deter governmental transgression. This is the most used means by which infringements to the Constitution, such as police transgression due to illegal search and seizure. The use of this rule is meant to preserve and maintain an individual’s reasonable right to privacy and their Fourth Amendment rights, though, as I will discuss throughout my paper, the exclusionary rule has not always been maintained as such since its inception in 1886.

Boyd V. United States

This is the case that established the Exclusionary rule. In this case, the defendant (Boyd) was accused of defrauding the U.S. Customs by importing plate glass without paying the dues, as required in the 1874 Customs Act. The Supreme Court later ruled that the 1874 Customs Act was criminal in nature, and not civil, as it was claimed.

The eventual ruling of the case was that the seizure or enforced presentation of an individual’s personal effects, such as books or papers, was tantamount to self-implication. The Court justified their decision by looking at past cases that Great Britain had dealt with, using the same methods of search and seizure. In the end, they stated that to convict an individual of a crime by forcibly compelling that person to present their private papers and other such evidence should be condemned .

Weeks v. United States

In this case, the defendant (Weeks) charged that the police had illegally searched his property twice, in order to find illegal gambling. It is to be noted that the police did find papers that implicated Weeks in transporting lottery tickets through the mail, but again, this was done without a search warrant, or proper regard to search and seizure rules. The court found in favor of Weeks, in which this was the first true application of the Exclusionary rule since its inception. The judges held that the illegal search and seizures conducted by the police, as well as the government’s refusal to return Weeks’ possessions, violated the Fourth Amendment rights, and to allow those involved in the seizure and detainment of Weeks’ possessions would have meant that the Fourth Amendment held no value whatsoever .

Rochin v. California

In this case, the court stated that evidence that is obtained by means that will “shock the conscience” is a desecration of due process, and thus is not admissible to court. This process is held to a different standard than the other cases, as it pertains solely to the acts perpetuated by law enforcement officials. The individuals in this case took their suspect to the hospital to have his stomach pumped after having observed him swallow pills.

The court ruled that the officers’ actions of pumping the suspect’s stomach, forcing his mouth open to retrieve those pills, is enough to affront even the most toughened of officials’ sensibilities. While this case was ruled as an exclusion due to the violations of the due process laws, I wanted to include it as it was still an illegal search and seizure .

Mapp v. Ohio

In this case, law enforcement officials were searching for a bombing suspect, but the defendant (Mapp) refused to let them in without a search warrant. Some time later, more officers appeared and forced their way into Mapp’s house, brandishing a piece of paper that they claimed was a search warrant. In the scuffle between Mapp and the officer over the paper, the paper was dropped, and allegedly, the other officers seized obscene materials.

The Exclusionary rule held in this case, as it was illegally seized. In fact, it furthered the Exclusionary rule by stating that all evidence obtained via an illegal search and seizure are inadmissible in a state court, as well as federal courts .

United States v. Calandra

This case came into being because a federal grand jury questioned the defendant (Calandra) about his suspected illegal activities involving loan sharking. This evidence was obtained by an agent during a search of Calandra’s business, whereupon they did not turn up any evidence of gambling paraphernalia, but they seized records that they suspected were evidence of the involvement of loan sharking. Calandra invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer any questions pertaining to the seized records, citing that his Fourth Amendment rights had been infringed upon, and he was not obligated to do so.

Calandra was offered transactional immunity by the district court, but he instead asked the evidence be suppressed due to the violation of the exclusionary rule. The district court ruled in favor of suppressing the evidence, holding that illegally seized evidence cannot be admitted into court as evidence. This case furthered the Exclusionary rule by enforcing the fact that evidence that is not collected legally via search warrant parameters will not be admissible in court, and thus the case will not be prosecuted, as such .

I evaluated my resources based on how they measured up against the facts in the textbook, as well as whether or not they were associated with well-known law schools or educational establishments. I also cross-referenced the other articles against the article from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, as it made mention of many of the Exclusionary rule cases, and allowed me to evaluate the worth of the other articles.