The “Good Faith Exception” a 30-year-old legal fiction, increasingly is being cited to give police officers a pass when they violate the Fourth Amendment

 

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From Slate:

[T]he good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule stunts the development of Fourth Amendment law. It discourages defendants from challenging illegal searches by denying them the possibility of redress. And courts frequently apply it without also addressing whether police conduct actually violated the Fourth Amendment in the first place. Whatever you think about the good-faith exception, courts are using it as an excuse to avoid scrutinizing questionable police searches.

For instance, last year, a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit held in United States v. Katzin that FBI agents violated the Fourth Amendment when they placed a GPS tracker on a Pennsylvania man’s vehicle without a warrant. The court ordered the GPS-derived evidence suppressed. The panel’s decision was important, because it was the first appellate opinion to hold that a warrant is required for GPS tracking since the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in United States v. Jones. In that case, the court found that attaching a GPS device to a car and tracking the car’s movements is a Fourth Amendment “search,” but did not decide whether it is the kind of search that requires a warrant, leaving that important question to lower courts to figure out.