There are signs that some justices on the United States Supreme Court may be ready to reconsider the unique American version of the exclusionary rule, which bans the use of evidence collected illegally by police, reports the New York Times. Writing for the majority two years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia said that at least some unconstitutional conduct ought not require “resort to the massive remedy of suppressing evidence of guilt.” The court will soon have an opportunity to clarify matters. The justices will hear arguments on Oct. 7 about whether methamphetamines and a gun siezed in an Alaska case should be suppressed because the officers who conducted the search mistakenly believed he was subject to an outstanding arrest warrant as a result of careless record-keeping by another police department.
The United States is the only country to take the position that some police misconduct must automatically result in the suppression of physical evidence. The rule applies whether the misconduct is slight or serious, and without regard to the gravity of the crime or the power of the evidence. “Foreign countries have flatly rejected our approach,” said Craig M. Bradley, an expert in comparative criminal law at Indiana University. “In every other country, it's up to the trial judge to decide whether police misconduct has risen to the level of requiring the exclusion of evidence.” Elsewhere in the world, courts have rejected what a Canadian appeals court called “the automatic exclusionary rule familiar to American Bill of Rights jurisprudence.”