History of The Rule
Up until the independence of the United States, the courts of England excluded self-incriminating evidence that was provided as a result of official compulsion, regardless of its reliability. In 1769, Lord Chief Justice Mansfield explained as follows:
|“||n civil causes, the court will force parties to produce evidence which may prove against themselves; or leave the refusal to do it (after proper notice) as a strong presumption, to the jury....But in a criminal or penal cause, the defendant is never forced to produce any evidence; though he should hold it in his hands in court.||”|
Chief Justice Mansfield also explained that "If any evidence or confession has been extorted from her, it will be of no prejudice to her on the trial." Additionally, a defendant could sue to suppress and regain possession of at least some types of illegally seized evidence, in a common law action for replevin.
However, in the 1783 case of Ceglinski v. Orr, the English courts declined to suppress evidence obtained by illegal coercion. In the Warickshall case, evidence was gathered as a result of an involuntary confession, and the court held that the evidence (but not the confession itself) could be admitted. It is questionable whether the Warickshall rule became known in the United States before 1789 (when the U.S. Bill of Rights was written), and whether it applied to confessions obtained by both governmental and private parties. In any event, no decision by the Supreme Court of the United States has ever endorsed the Warickshall rule as a constitutional matter.
Generally speaking, English law before 1789 did not provide as strong an exclusionary rule as the one that later developed under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, regarding unlawful searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment, after all, was partly a reaction against English law including the general warrant and the writs of assistance.
In the 1886 case of Boyd v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed compulsory production of business papers, and the Court excluded those papers based on a combination of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Boyd was closely limited to its facts, and several years later the Court stated that the Fourth Amendment does not extend to "excluding testimony" about wrongful searches and seizures.
In 1897, the U.S. Supreme Court held, in Bram v. United States, that involuntary confessions are inadmissible as evidence. The Court in Bram did not announce a strong version of the exclusionary rule that would apply uniformly to exclude all evidence gathered in violation of the Bill of Rights, but instead announced a weak version that excluded only self-incriminating testimony that was compelled in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The distinction between testimonial versus other self-incriminating evidence is a matter of continuing debate.
Before a strong version of the exclusionary rule was addressed and adopted by the federal courts, it had already been adopted by at least one state court, namely the Iowa Supreme Court, as that court would later describe:
|“||The genesis of Iowa’s exclusionary rule was a civil case, Reifsnyder v. Lee, 44 Iowa 101 (1876).... The first application of the exclusionary rule in a criminal context occurred in the Height case, decided in 1902. Height involved a physical exam of the defendant against his will. 117 Iowa at 652, 91 N.W. at 935. This court held that the examination of the defendant violated the due process clause of the Iowa Constitution, as well as article 1, section 8’s prohibition of unreasonable searches.||”|
In 1914, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a strong version of the exclusionary rule, in the case of Weeks v. United States, under the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures. This decision, however, created the rule only on the federal level. The "Weeks Rule", which made an exception for cases at the state level, was adopted by numerous states at a time during prohibition. In adopting the rule, actions by states often reflected attitudes towards prohibition, which was enacted by adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment and was enforced through the Volstead Act. Concerns about privacy violations also extended to other instances where criminal sanctions were permitted for "victimless" crime, such as illegal gambling or narcotics violations.
In 1920, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine in the case of Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States. The Court stated that allowing evidence gathered as an indirect result of an unconstitutional search and seizure "reduces the Fourth Amendment to a form of words".
Wolf v. Colorado (1949) ruled that states were not required to adopt the exclusionary rule. Despite the ruling, some states adopted the exclusionary rule. The Supreme Court of California ruled in People v. Cahan (1955) that the exclusionary rule applied for cases in the state of California. By 1960, 22 states had adopted the rule without substantial qualifications: California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Michigan also had an exclusionary rule, but with limitations for some narcotics and firearms evidence. In Alabama, Maryland, and South Dakota, the exclusionary rule applied in some situations.
It was not until Mapp v. Ohio that the exclusionary rule was also held to be binding on the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees due process. Up until Mapp, the exclusionary rule had been rejected by most states.
Read more about this topic: Exclusionary Rule
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