Arizona V. Evans - Dissenting Opinions

Dissenting Opinions

Justice Stevens took issue with the notion that the exclusionary rule served to deter only police misconduct. Because the Fourth Amendment constrains the power of the sovereign, the exclusionary rule — the remedy for violating the Fourth Amendment — should "impose costs on that sovereign, motivating it to train all of its personnel to avoid future violations." Nor did Justice Stevens think that the exclusionary rule was an extreme sanction, for there is nothing extreme about allowing the sovereign to profit from its "negligent misconduct."

Stevens also distinguished this case from Leon. In Leon, there had been a presumably valid warrant issued at the time of the search; in this case there was none. Furthermore, there was some police conduct involved in maintaining the database on which the officer relied to determine whether there was, in fact, a warrant out for Evans's arrest. To say that the exclusionary rule did not apply in this situation was, therefore, not entirely accurate for Justice Stevens. Moreover, Stevens observed that there was no civil remedy under section 1983 for Fourth Amendment violations that result from erroneous information in police databases, either against the individual officer or against the city that employs him. "The offense to the dignity of the citizen who is arrested, handcuffed, and searched on a public street simply because some bureaucrat has failed to maintain an accurate computer data base strikes me as... outrageous." The fact that the police happened to find Evans's marijuana as a result of inaccurate information in the database had to be weighed against the interest of law-abiding citizens.

Justice Ginsburg argued that the case was not properly before the Court because it rested on an independent and adequate ground in Arizona law — its statute dealing with good-faith reliance on the validity of warrants. The Supreme Court's interference would therefore impede on Arizona's ability to act as a laboratory for legal innovations. The majority observed that part of the Arizona Supreme Court's decision did in fact rest on the exclusionary rule, so that the Court had jurisdiction to review the case.

Read more about this topic:  Arizona V. Evans

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