PART B - EXCLUSIONARY RULE
1. General. Before we examine the specific rules under the Fourth Amendment (what is a legal vs.
an illegal search, what is probable cause, when an authorization/warrant is required, exceptions to the
authorization requirement, etc.), we need to pause and understand the importance of complying with
the law in this area. Evidence that is obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure is
inadmissible against the accused at trial. It is excluded from evidence (MRE 311a). This means we
lose the direct result of the unlawful search, as well as evidence that is derived therefrom. To use an
example, suppose you unlawfully apprehend a soldier. You search him and discover a knife and a 1-
ounce bag of marijuana on his person. Both items are the direct result of the illegal search, and would
be suppressed. Suppose you sent the drugs to a laboratory for analysis, and you received back a lab
report. This report identified the substance as marijuana. Suppose that you also sent the knife to the
lab for examination, and that you got back a report stating that it has the suspect's fingerprints on it,
along with human blood. Suppose you then show both lab reports to the suspect and tell him that he
might as well confess, since you have the evidence to convict him. He admits the marijuana is his, and
says he used the knife in a robbery the prior evening.
Since there was an illegal apprehension, all the evidence "obtained through the means of such
seized evidence" is also going to be suppressed. The lab reports and confession, then, are examples
of what we call "derivative evidence," known otherwise as the "fruit of the poisoned tree." U.S. v.
Leiffer, 10 MJ 639 (NCMR, 1980). This "derivative evidence" may be physical evidence, a confession,
or even the identity of witnesses. U.S. v. Van Hoose, 11 MJ 878 (AFCMR, 1981). The issue is whether
the government has acquired the additional evidence by exploiting, or taking advantage of, its illegal
actions. U.S. v. Kesteloot, 6 MJ 706 (NCMR, 1978). If we suppress the physical evidence as well as
live testimony of the witnesses that is derived therefrom, the entire government case may be destroyed.
U.S. v. Duckworth, 9 MJ 861 (ACMR, 1980).
2. Exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule.
a. General. The purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter unlawful police conduct. Its
application depends, therefore, on whether the goal of deterring the police from breaking the law would
be furthered. Illinois v. Krull, 55 L. W. 4291 (1987). Since its purpose is to deter, courts have
recognized exceptions to the application of the exclusionary rule. These are situations where the rule
will not apply, even though there has been a violation of the law by the police.