Illegal Search Rule Faces New Challenge

US is the only country to automatically reject unlawful evidence
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2008 8:16 AM CDT
This undated image provided by the Drug Enforcement Agency shows evidence seized during arrests on a smuggling ring.    (AP Photo/Drug Enforcement Agency)
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(Newser) – America is the only country in the world where evidence—even a carload of narcotics—is automatically suppressed if the police are found to have acted wrongly in acquiring it, writes the New York Times. Courts in other countries weigh the level of police misconduct with the gravity of the crime and the power of the evidence. In the US, the exclusion is absolute, but a change could be coming.

The Supreme Court has chipped away at the controversial rule in recent years, and agreed to review it when a case involving guns and drugs seized in a mistaken search comes before it this fall. Backers of automatic exclusion of evidence argue that it is essential for preserving Fourth Amendment rights. Critics say that with civil suits now providing an effective deterrent for police misconduct, it has outlived its usefulness.