No Suppression For Search Following Arrest on Withdrawn Warrant
In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court further eroded our Fourth Amendment protections by holding that the exclusionary rule does not apply to searches that follow an unlawful arrest pursuant to a warrant that, although withdrawn, still appears to be active in police databases. On its surface the result seems reasonable -- the police do not deliberately violate rights when they make arrests in the good faith belief that their databases are accurate -- but in practice the decision will lead to pernicious results.
The problem that the decision addresses is not uncommon. Warrants are issued for all sorts of reasons (including missed court appearances and failures to pay fines) and are routinely withdrawn when the reason for their issuance is rectified (the defendant appears in court or pays the fine). But since databases are not centralized, a police database of outstanding warrants is frequently populated with warrants that are no longer active. Individuals are routinely arrested in the belief that a warrant is outstanding, only to be released when the court verifies that the warrant has been withdrawn.
The Supreme Court's decision gives the police little incentive to keep their databases up to date and thus encourages wrongful arrests. [more ...]
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