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Arizona V. Evans: Expanding Exclusionary Rule Exceptions and Contracting Fourth Amendment Protection

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Volume: 86 Issue: 4 Dated: (Summer 1996) Pages: 1201-1227
H A Jackson
Date Published
27 pages
This note critiques the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Arizona v. Evans, 115 S. Ct. 1185 (1995), in which the Court held that the exclusionary rule does not apply when an unlawful search is the result of a clerical error by a court employee.
The Court reasoned that the exclusionary rule did not fulfill its requisite deterrent purposes in a case where a police officer acted in good faith in response to a nonexistent misdemeanor warrant that appeared on the police computer. Thus, the Court ruled that evidence seized in violation of Isaac Evans' fourth amendment rights could be admitted and used against Evans in a criminal proceeding. According to the Court, the exclusionary rule is a judicially created remedy designed to deter future fourth amendment violations by police officers. Because the rule is not a specific remedy to cure fourth amendment violations, it is only applicable when the deterrent purposes are most efficaciously served. This note argues that the illegally seized evidence should have been excluded even though the violation was caused by a court employee. First, the author asserts that the Court distorted the precedent of United States v. Leon (1984), the common law foundation for the good faith exception, by ignoring the centrality of the warrant process in that case. Second, this note asserts that, contrary to the majority's indication, the role of the exclusionary rule is much greater than mere deterrence. Finally, the note argues that even if the main goal of the exclusionary rule is deterrence, that goal would be better served by applying the rule to all State law enforcement personnel, not only to arresting officers. Therefore, the Court incorrectly held that the introduction of evidence against a criminal defendant, seized without a warrant or probable cause due to clerical error, was constitutionally permissible. 225 footnotes


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