d. Good Faith. A third exception to the exclusionary rule is that the search or seizure "resulted
from an authorization to search, seize, or apprehend issued by an individual competent to issue the
authorization...or from a search warrant or arrest warrant issued by competent civilian authority." For
this exception to apply, however, the individual issuing the authorization/warrant must have a
"substantial basis for determining the existence of probable cause," and the police who execute the
authorization/warrant must have "reasonably and with good faith relied on the issuance of the
authorization or warrant." (MRE 311(b) 3.)
In U.S. v. Leon, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984), the police obtained a search warrant which was later held
to be invalid due to a lack of probable cause for its issuance. The Supreme Court held that the
exclusionary rule is designed to deter the police from breaking the law. It should not be applied to deter
reasonable police conduct; indeed, in such a situation, there is nothing to deter. Here, "there is no
police illegality," so why deter them from acting reasonably and in good faith? Indeed, the application
of the exclusionary rule under such circumstances would not be reasonable. It would be different, of
course, if the police obtained the authorization/warrant by deliberately furnishing false information.
Also, the exception will not apply if no reasonably well-trained police officer would have relied on the
warrant. Stated differently, was the police officer's reliance on the authorization/warrant reasonable? If
so, the exception may be applied.
Remember, this is a good faith exception, not a bad faith one. The exception doesn't apply if the
police should have known the search to be unlawful. Massachusetts v. Shephard, 82 L. Ed.2d 737
(1984). The Fourth Amendment, of course, prohibits UNREASONABLE searches and seizures.
Where the good faith exception applies, the police have acted reasonably. U.S. v. Postle, 20 MJ 632
(NMCMR, 1985). Where the police officer acts reasonably and in good faith, "technical deficiencies as
to the establishment of probable cause for the search authorization issued do not require exclusion of
the fruits of the search." U.S. v. Queen, 20 MJ 817 (NMCMR, 1985). Again, since the purpose of the
exclusionary rule is to deter the police from acting unlawfully, it makes no sense to apply the rule in
such cases. U.S. v. Krull, 40 Cr. L. 3327 (1987).
In another case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the police officers obtained a warrant to
search the person of Lawrence McWebb and "the premises known as 2036 Park Avenue third floor
apartment." The police believed that there was only one apartment on the third floor, but there were
actually two. Only one, however, was occupied by McWebb. Before getting the warrant, a police
officer went to the location and determined that it matched the description given him by an informant.
The officer also checked with the gas and electric company, and determined that the third floor was in
McWebb's name." The police records pertaining to McWebb showed that he lived at that address. The
police were, therefore, reasonable in concluding that McWebb was the only tenant on the third floor.