What's at Stake
Whether the exclusionary rule requires the suppression of evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment when the Fourth Amendment violation was based on misinformation sent by law enforcement officials in another county.
The defendant in this case was arrested and searched by law enforcement officials in Dale County, Alabama, after they had been erroneously informed that there was an outstanding warrant for the defendant’s arrest by law enforcement officials in neighboring Coffee County. There is no dispute that the arrest and search violated the Fourth Amendment in the absence of either a valid warrant or probable cause. The Eleventh Circuit nonetheless declined to suppress the evidence obtained from the unconstitutional search on the theory that the exclusionary rule would have only a minor deterrent effect under these circumstances that could just as easily be achieved through other remedies, including a civil suit. The ACLU amicus brief argues that the facts of this case do not support the conclusion that a civil rights lawsuit would be an adequate substitute for the deterrent effect of the exclusionary rule.