Truth to Power

Well, so much for the Fourth Amendment

Court says evidence is valid despite police error

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court said Wednesday that evidence obtained after illegal searches or arrests based on simple police mistakes may be used to prosecute criminal defendants.

The justices split 5-4 along ideological lines to apply new limits to the court’s so-called exclusionary rule, which generally requires evidence to be suppressed if it results from a violation of a suspect’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches or seizure.

The conservative majority acknowledged that the arrest of Bennie Dean Herring of Alabama – based on the mistaken belief that there was a warrant for his arrest – violated his constitutional rights, yet upheld his conviction on federal drug and gun charges.

Coffee County, Ala., sheriff’s deputies found amphetamines in Herring’s pockets and an unloaded gun in his truck when they conducted a search following his arrest. It turned out that the warrant from neighboring Dale County had been recalled five months earlier, but the county sheriff’s computers had not been updated.</em>

So much for the notion that a man’s home is his castle, which has served civilized people well enough since oh, 1604. Of course, this is one of the “lesser” amendments, since nobody can imagine the police actually abusing the ruling by faking evidence, or even better, just showing up at the wrong house and shooting a 92 year old woman to death.

Sounds like its time for everyone to get more diligent with the remaining amendments…starting with the 2nd.


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