Mapp and the exclusionary rule, pt.3

The exclusionary rule first appeared in 1914, in a federal case involving the U.S. Marshal’s Office, known as Weeks v. U.S. That case involved U.S. Marshals searching a home for lottery tickets.

The search was conducted without a warrant and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that evidence gathered during an illegal search must be suppressed as the only way to protect the constitution from law enforcement wrongdoing.

Whether the search is of one’s blood due to a DUI stop or of one’s home, if the Chattanooga Police or the Tennessee Highway Patrol break the law in gathering the evidence, it is important to remember that search is illegal.

It is no different from a case where the police break into a store and empty the cash register in order to fund a new computer for their office. The fact the ultimate end is a legitimate goal of law enforcement does not permit them to violate some other law to facilitate that end.

While Weeks created the rule in 1914, that rule only applied to federal officers. The Mapp case that extended this rule to the states in 1961. Dollree Mapp’s house was searched, and police charged her with possessing gambling paraphernalia and lewd materials.

She claimed they belonged to a former boarder and not her. She was convicted, and her case eventually came to the Supreme Court, where the court became interested in warrantless search. The police never were able to produce a copy of the warrant they claimed they used, and the Court punished that constitutional violation by extended the exclusionary rule to all state law enforcement.

The exclusionary rule has been under attack for years, but for the moment, it still protects the Constitution from illegal behavior by those sworn to uphold the law.

New York Times, “Dollree Mapp, Who Defied Police Search in Landmark Case, Is Dead,” William Yardley, Dec. 9, 2014

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