United States v. Leon
, 468 U.S. 897
), was a search and seizure
case in which the Supreme Court of the United States
created the "good faith" exception to the exclusionary rule
In 1981, police in Burbank, California
received a tip identifying Patsy Stewart and Armando Sanchez as drug dealers. Police began surveillance of their homes and followed leads based on the cars that frequented the residences. The police identified Ricardo Del Castillo and Alberto Leon as also being involved in the operation. Based on this surveillance
and information from a second informant, a detective wrote an affidavit
and a judge
issued a search warrant.
The exclusionary rule
(which forbids evidence obtained through illegal search and seizure from admittance in criminal trial) is "neither intended nor able to 'cure the invasion of the defendant's rights which he has already suffered.'" Justice Byron White
states that the Court has previously defined the limits of the exclusionary rule and that there is therefore good reason to do so in this case. The exclusionary rule was designed to deter unlawful police action, not punish the errors of magistrates
. There is no evidence that judges and magistrates are inclined to ignore suspects' Fourth Amendment rights. White also states that there is no evidence that the exclusion of evidence will deter magistrates from issuing unsound warrants.
White clarifies that suppression of evidence should continue in cases where the magistrate was misled by information supplied in an affidavit in "bad faith". As long as the person writing the affidavit wrote it in good faith, the decision is that of the magistrate and the exclusionary rule serves no useful function. The officers enforcing the warrant must be able to rely on the decision of the magistrate.
Arguing the case for the respondent was former Los Angeles prosecutor and now-ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack.
- Hemmens, C.; Worrall, J. L.; Thompson, A. (2004). Criminal Justice Case Briefs: Significant Cases in Criminal Procedure. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing.
- LaFave, Wayne R. (1996). "Computers, Urinals, and the Fourth Amendment: Confessions of a Patron Saint". Michigan Law Review 94 (8): 2553–2589.