Supreme Court

Sonia Sotomayor Blasts SCOTUS for Excusing 'Lawless Police Conduct' in 4th Amendment Case

The Supreme Court issues its decision in Utah v. Strieff.


White House /

In a 5-3 decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an illegal police stop and resulting drug arrest did not ultimately violate the Fourth Amendment because the officer later discovered an outstanding traffic warrant for the individual that he had illegally stopped.

The case of Utah v. Strieff began when a police officer stopped Edward Strieff on the street and ran his identification. The state of Utah concedes that this was an illegal police stop. Yet when Strieff's identification was run it turned out that he had an outstanding traffic warrant. The officer then arrested him, searched him, and discovered drugs in his pockets. Strieff argues that the drugs should be inadmissible under the Fourth Amendment because they are the fruits of an illegal search.

Today the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed with Strieff and ruled for the state. "The evidence Officer Fackrell seized as part of his search incident to arrest is admissible because his discovery of the arrest warrant attenuated the connection between the unlawful stop and the evidence seized from Strieff incident to arrest," declared the majority opinion of Justice Clarence Thomas, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito.

Writing in dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the majority for excusing police misconduct and undermining the Fourth Amendment. "This case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time," Sotomayor wrote. "It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged."

The Supreme Court's opinion in Utah v. Strieff is available here.

NEXT: Spanish Cardinal Faces Criminal Charges for Homily Remarks

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The state of Utah concedes that this was an illegal police stop.

    Judge Sonia needs to learn that ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ is not legal precedent, and that the Fourth Amendment framers never could have known how dangerous to the more perfect union drugs would one day become.

    1. Drugs are dangerous only to the people who use them – not to the State (the people). Drug laws become dangerous when they inadvertently become a “business” franchise for crime cartels and street gangs.

    2. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $12k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this Website…
      For more details visit at.________________

    3. This is the problem with appointing a SCJ who stated in her confirmation hearings she would vote not on the Constitutional law, but on being a Latino. And you wonder why Congress rates down there with divorce lawyers and used car salesmen.

      Sotomayor should have NEVER got confirmation for this very reason. The apple rots from within.

    4. The number one violence-causing drug is alcohol, which is perfectly legal to adults. When the presently illegal drugs were legal and easily available (1900) there was no criminal justice problems with their use–unlike alcohol then and now–and, as people were discovering their addictiveness, addiction rates were going down. And remember, when the government finally got around to prohibiting alcohol, it causes a huge increase in organized crime and murders…just like the “drug war” today.

      Now, as to the article. I’m surprised that Justice Sotomayor doesn’t fully realize that the U.S., slowly but surely, is becoming a police state, one law at a time, one Supreme Court decision at a time.

  2. She only does one thing well but man does she hit it out of the park.

    1. Yeah, I’m no fan of this wise Latina on the overwhelming majority of issues, but she is pretty good on the Fourth Amendment.

  3. She just realized all that? A bloody fucking genius is what we got on the Supreme Court suddenly.

    1. Nah. She’s been like that since she joined the Court. This case is just unusual in that she got a couple of people to join her dissent; usually in 4th amendment cases she’s the only dissenting vote.

      1. I have been pleasantly surprised by Sotomayor on these kinds of cases. I thought she’d be a typical bootlicking statist, but on this issue, she’s actually not bad.

        1. She is just not on the 4th for some reason. If we could take her opinion on the 4th and replace Thomas’s with it, we would have a really solid justice on the court.

        2. She is a boot licking status who happens to hate cops. There is nothing principled about it. One must have fucked her mother or something.

          1. Are you looking for people who love authoritarian cops here?

  4. The opinion of the majority seemed a pretty clear “because FYTW” reasoning. The defendant was bad, so whatever the police do was justifiable.

    Sotomayor may have her flaws, but she always writes great opinions (in dissent, almost always) when it comes to the 4th.

  5. “This case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time,” Sotomayor wrote. “It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”

    She’s just now figuring that out?

  6. From Thomas’ opinion:

    To enforce the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” this Court has at times required courts to exclude evidence obtained by unconstitutional police conduct. But the Court has also held that, even when there is a Fourth Amendment violation, this exclusionary rule does not apply when the costs of exclusion outweigh its deterrent benefits. In some cases, for example, the link between the unconstitutional conduct and the discovery of the evidence is too attenuated to justify suppression.

    So, hey, the cop was wrong and in clear violation of a Constitutional right afforded to the plaintiff, but because throwing out wrongly-obtained evidence would be super inconvenient when it comes to incarcerating this dirbag, which of course is super important, we’re going to permit it, anyway.

    1. The costs of not arresting someone for a small amount of drugs is about zero, so he’s full of shit there.

    2. when there is a Fourth Amendment violation, this exclusionary rule does not apply when the costs of exclusion outweigh its deterrent benefits.

      Grounds for impeachment.

    3. As I’ve said several time, Thomas has increasingly just been going Angry Grandpa in his decisions.

      1. No shit. His libertarian stock has plummeted over the years. He’s become way more law and order tough guy than Constitutionalist.

      2. Thomas has never been great on 4th Amendment issues. Meanwhile Sotomayor is only good on 4th Amendment issues.

          1. But wise Latina!


    4. this exclusionary rule does not apply when the costs of exclusion outweigh its deterrent benefits.

      Except when it’s really important, guys. The law’s the law – except when the government stands to gain.

    5. the Court has also held that, even when there is a Fourth Amendment violation, this exclusionary rule does not apply when the costs of exclusion outweigh its deterrent benefits.

      Because the Law does not owe its existence to the fundamental principle of protecting the individual but to help the prosecution add one more notch to the bed post.

    6. Reading through the wikipedia breakdown of Hudson v. Michigan, where the “exclusionary rule” became precedent, it’s difficult to say that Scalia et al. argued wrongly.

      [E]xclusion may not be premised on the mere fact that a constitutional violation was a ‘but-for’ cause of obtaining evidence. Our cases show that but-for causality is only a necessary, not a sufficient, condition for suppression. In this case, of course, the constitutional violation of an illegal manner of entry was not a but-for cause of obtaining the evidence.

      If I’m reading this correctly, the mere fact that the Detroit police failed to wait the appropriate period after announcing and before entering the premises is not in itself cause for suppressing the evidence seized within, and, in any event, having waited longer before bursting through the door would not have changed the outcome. Applying that reasoning to Strieff, as Thomas does, one would have to reach the conclusion that the search may have been illegally premised but would not have changed matters as the arrest would have come about in any event.

      So here we have an immanently reasonable decision “emanating”, once again, from our terrible domestic drug policy.

      (IANAL, obviously, so my reasoning her could very well be flawed. But I think I’m right about drug policy being a terrible source of precedents for 4A protections.)

      1. This is just me, but I think you either need an absolute exclusionary rule (any evidence found following an illegal arrest or search is excluded) or prison time for police who violate the 4th amendment (any time a search is determined to have been illegal, someone does time). As it is there is little incentive for police to obey the law.

        1. But think about the chilling effects.

          1. “But think about the chilling effects.”
            On the police? I swoon at the thought.
            They have a better than even shot of being supported in any 4th amendment abuse and zero chance of suffering for it, so why not take every shot they can?

            1. You were supposed to say, THAT’S THE POINT, DUMMY.

              1. THAT’S THE POINT, DUM DUM

              2. THAT’S THE POINT, DUM DUM

        2. There may be little incentive for police to obey this law, but no incentive for them to break it either. They get paid the same amount regardless, don’t they? And isn’t it also a little less work for them if they don’t bother the person?

          1. You think they don’t have quota’s? Revenue isn’t going to raise itself!

          2. I don’t think they get payed per arrest, but favored duties or schedules or promotions are all incentives (in addition to “making your quota”)

    7. I remember seeing this rationale for the first time in con law and asking, “uh, what about the deterrent benefits for POLICE misconduct?”

      1. Every time a cop or one of their apologists bitches about chilling effects, I want to scream THAT’S THE POINT, DUMMY.

        1. Yeah, people complain about “getting of on a technicality” as if the law is to blame when it’s the police who fucked up. The technicalities are there for a reason.

    8. “this exclusionary rule does not apply when the costs of exclusion outweigh its deterrent benefits.”

      This exception will never swallow the rule. Never.

      1. I suspect it is adequately circumscribed, at least as defined by Scalia in the first instance and affirmed by Thomas in the second, or at the very least merely affirms a bad precedent which has been in force since 2006. The damage has been on the books for awhile. The Streiff opinion evaluates the criteria on which the exclusionary rule depends: the incident of an illegal search or seizure, already admitted to by the state; temporal proximity, which favors suppressing the evidence (previous cases, apparently, have found for suppressing evidence collected up to two hours after an illegal stop, while in this case contraband was discovered within minutes); and lastly, the presence of intervening circumstances. “In this case, the warrant was valid, it predated Officer Fackrell’s investigation, and it was entirely unconnected with the stop. And once Officer Fackrell discovered the warrant, he had an obligation to arrest Strieff.” Given the circumstances, the evidence procured was “sufficiently attenuated to dissipate the taint” of the illegal stop, since Fackrell would have arrested Strieff regardless.

    9. This seems easy. If busting someone for a small quantity of drugs is that important, then lock the guy up. And lock up the cop, too. We’ve already acknowledged that the search was illegal. What do we call an illegal search when it’s not a cop? Well, this one could be kidnapping, unlawful restraint, assault, battery…the list just goes on and on!

  7. Wise Latina indeed. Props to her for getting this absolutely right.
    And shame on the 5 who thought otherwise.
    The constitution is only as good as its defenders and we have some truly craptastic defenders.

  8. I wonder if this new principle can be applied to other police activity.

    For instance, it may be illegal for the police to arbitrarily beat a suspect who isn’t resisting, but maybe if he starts resisting after they beat him, that can make the original, formerly unjustified beating, perfectly okay?

    1. Yes, and when a cop rapes a detainee, if the detainee stops struggling after the first few thrusts, then they are ultimately consenting.

      1. I’m starting to understand.

        Sometimes I think they should should just strap us all down in a rubber room and pump us full of dopamine.

        Safe and happy. What’s not to like?

        Rights, schmights.

  9. Many Donald Trump supporters on Twitter spent Tuesday afternoon unknowingly arguing with a robot.
    @Assbott, which mostly tweets about professional wrestling and baseball, was created to immediately reply to Trump’s tweets, then respond with nonsense sentences to any user who interacts with it. But many of the presumptive Republican nominee’s fans didn’t recognize it wasn’t a person and continued fighting with it until they finally abandoned the conversation. About 10 users per hour continued tweeting at @Assbott well into Tuesday night.
    @Assbott is the brainchild of a Kentucky man named Forrest, who identifies himself as @Nasboat on Twitter and declined to give his last name.…..-fans.html

    1. Doxxing yourself, Assbot?

      1. I would so use “Assbott”.

    2. At least they didn’t know it was a robot.

      That’s easier to understand than people who respond to you.

      Why do we do it?

      Boredom might explain some of it. The rest of it’s probably explained by hangovers and whatever it is that makes kids want to leave a flaming bag of poo on someone’s doorstep.

      1. Why do you Paleo types deny the existence of Cosmotarians?

        1. Did somebody hear like a farting noise?

        2. wait, you really think you’re a libertarian?


    3. Hey, it’s the Assbot! *honks horn*

      1. You got that right!

        I can’t help but think Bender Bending Rodriguez would be a solid representative for Assbot.

    4. The thing is, we assumed that the day that people confused robots for humans was far off in the future, when robot communication advanced to a point where it became indistinguishable from human speech.

      But that day came sooner than we expected.

      Because Twitter has caused human communication to devolve to the point it is indistinguishable from robot gibberish.

      1. Yeah, this is certainly a testament to how badly human interaction has degenerated, and not how evolved our robots have become.

      2. Excellent point. Many people fail the Turing test.

      3. So instead of the singularity, where AI evolves to the level of human thought, we have the declination, where human thought devolves to the level of AI thought.

        I think that succinctly describes Twitter.

  10. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.

    +1 Melissa Harris Perry

  11. The Constitution is just a fucking piece of paper.

    1. “Ah, yes, the ‘unalienable rights.’ Each year someone quotes that magnificent poetry. Life? What ‘right’ to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific? The ocean will not hearken to his cries. What ‘right’ to life has a man who must die if he is to save his children? If he chooses to save his own life, does he do so as a matter of ‘right’? If two men are starving and cannibalism is the only alternative to death, which man’s right is ‘unalienable’? And is it ‘right’? As to liberty, the heroes who signed the great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.”

      1. Thankfully, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are meant to be constraints on man, not nature. That includes the natural state of inequality.

        1. Thankfully, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are meant to be constraints on man, not nature.

          We like to set ourselves aside from nature, somehow. There’s the wilds, untamed and natural, and then there’s man. An omnivorous apex predator.

          Some might believe the ocean is different because it cannot help what it does. Humans are not mindless processes of biology; we have invented court systems, philosophy and margaritas. We can choose differently.

          The course of human history shows that humans could choose differently, and yet they rarely do. Why does the lion eat you? Because it can.

      2. Life? What ‘right’ to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific? The ocean will not hearken to his cries.

        Yet another person who can’t wrap their little head around abstract concepts like “rights”. “Rights” are entirely and completely about human interaction, specifically the rights and wrongs of human interaction. The fact that the pacific ocean will drown you even though you have a “right to live” does not invalidate the concept that humans owe one another recognition of one another’s universalizable and contractual rights.

  12. Tell me again why Thomas is supposed to be a SCOTUS “good guy”.

    1. Because he’s the most ardent supporter of the 2nd Amendment, he also is strong on the 14th Amendment, and one of the few Justices who will apply the 9th or 10th. He’s not so good on the 4th.

      He’s not perfect, but there isn’t a better Justice in my lifetime.

    2. “Less bad guy” is more accurate. He’s (relatively) strong on federalism issues, often the First Amendment, usually the Second Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment originalism (especially opposing the made-up concept of Substantive Due Process while arguing in favor of incorporation of the Bill of Rights through the Privileges & Immunities Clause).

      He’s pretty weak in other areas, particularly the Fourth Amendment, and can be a bit of a pro-national-security-apparatus, pro-“law & order” copsucker.

  13. This is great news for defenders of the 4th amendment…..wait, what ? Oooooh….this was her dissent. The actual decision went the other way? Well that’s not good.

  14. this exclusionary rule does not apply when the costs of exclusion outweigh its deterrent benefits

    We cannot allow the peasants to believe they can get off on a technicality. That would undermine their fear and obeisance to the Total Security State. This is an unbearable cost.

  15. Make 5000 bucks every month… Start doing online computer-based work through our day37 website and start getting that much needed extra income every month….. You’ll get trained by us, no prior experience needed… Find out more about it on following address
    check this link ………………………………………….

  16. This is an awful decision

    Btw, it is not relevant in my state (WA) due to greater protections recognized by our state constitution

    My state does not recognize the ‘inevitable discovery ‘ doctrine, which IS part of constitutional law on a federal basis

    The classic example given is one where somehow through illegal police procedures a suspect shows police the location of a victim hidden under the snow but it turns out if that hadn’t have happened , shortly thereafter a warm streak would’ve melted the snow and the cops would’ve found the body anyways so the evidence is not suppressed

    this doctrine does not hold in Washington state but does in most of the rest of the country

    1. With the increase of federal involvement in “state” prosecutions, SCOTUS decisions are becoming more important in run-of-the-mill local cases.

      1. Absolutely

        And of course in addition to this fact, most states don’t offer significant privacy rights beyond those recognized federally

        My state is a wonderful example of one that does

        We don’t allow the type of overhead searches (helicopter) that are allowed federally, and tons of others

        An unintended consequence when a state becomes very restrictive In rulings is exactly what you say – the state throws up its hands especially when there’s a really gnarly case and just says fuck it – we will give it to the feds because then all these state rules won’t apply

        The other reason they will give it to the feds is because federal penalties are so much stricter

        The one advantage civilians have over cops is you where we see a trial at the state level acquit somebody and then to retry it at the federal level even if there is a federal crime analog (this is what happened during Rodney King)

  17. The United States is the only country with anything like the exclusionary rule; it simply is not known in other countries, even those with relatively strong protections for defendants. It is interesting that justices who are usually critical of following international norms are fine with bringing 4th Amendment protections in line with those norms.

  18. Officer Fackrell observed Strieff exit the house and walk toward a nearby convenience store. In the store’s parking lot, Officer Fackrell detained Strieff, identified himself, and asked Strieff what he was doing at the residence.
    As part of the stop, Officer Fackrell requested Strieff’s identification, and Strieff produced his Utah identification

    Did Officer Fackrell say bitte when asking for the papieren?

  19. bassjoe is correct!

    Last I checked (laws change) The exclusionary rule is unique to the United States although some countries have a more discretionary version up to the trial judge such as is the case in Canada

    Some would argue that while many countries don’t exclude the evidence, they make it easier to sue police and hold police accountable for bad searches versus the United States and some extent this is true

    To sue in the United States you need to overcome qualified immunity which essentially means if the search is bad but you can’t prove gross negligence or malice you effectively have zero chance of suing successfully

    On the other hand as a general rule even if there was good faith and no malice you can get the evidence excluded and I would argue most people arguing for justice and rights of defendants think the exclusionary rule is superior to admitting the evidence but then suing the police in the aftermath

    1. “Police accountability.”

      As elusive as bigfoot and unicorns.

      This just made it more elusive.

      1. Woodchippers: The ultimate accountability tool.

  20. Also to carry-on from the last post the intent of the exclusionary rule is to deter the conduct that triggered the exclusionary rule and while I’m not aware of anybody doing a study to show how effective it is in that regards as an immediate remedy it’s pretty powerful because when police know bad searches equal exclude evidence they have that first and foremost in their mind and I can tell you from personal experience in every step of an investigation you always have the exclusionary rule in the back of your mind guiding you and I frankly think it works very well in the aggregate

    1. Man, take a breath once in a while Dunphy… 🙂

      1. I dictate my posts instead of typing so I apologize but run on sentences seem to be more common with this methodology of posting

        ^^^^^. Lol

  21. So our Supreme Court thinks it is okay for some cops to illegally stop and search someone on the street. There goes another nail into the Constitution’s coffin.

  22. So our Supreme Court thinks it is okay for some cops to illegally stop and search someone on the street. There goes another nail into the Constitution’s coffin.

  23. Hey, the ends justify the means, amirite Comrade?

  24. I can think of literally scores of examples where even when I was 95% sure something was admissible without a warrant I will still get a warrant because from a game theory perspective it’s just not worth it as well as from A wanting to protect a person’s rights Angle

    The obvious exceptions are when you are in an exigency situation where there is simply not time

    Another concept that reasonoids always constantly fail to understand is that when police do get a warrant there is a principal in law where the judge in the pursuant trial must be more deferential to the probable cause than any case where they didn’t . So from a practical matter where the probable cause isn’t super rocksolid a warrant has that advantage as well

    Of course we’ve seen a few cases here were cops were still punished for bad probable cause even when a prosecutor and a judge approved the PC in a warrant which is ridiculous in that they supposedly have more legal training but they cannot be sued only the police can BE, assuming qualified immunity can be over ridden since they (judges) have absolute immunity

    Cops present PC – don’t leave anything out or be untruthful in any way
    Judge approves
    Dude sues – says bad PC
    court agree and says cops have no QI
    Judge has NO penalty
    Apart from political ramifications there is ZERO disincentive towards judges for making horrible decisions. There is NO mechanism to punish

    1. And you’ve told us as well about when you didn’t wait for a warrant, but illegally bullied a pharmacist in divulging federally protected medical records.

      Such a saint, you are.

      1. Lol

        1). Not illegal
        2) I bullied nobody

        I simply asked

        Ironically I thought it more likely than not that he would refuse over some sort of medical privacy issue but he had absolutely no problem with it whatsoever and the locus of control as well as burden lies entirely with him as both the prosecutor and defense attorney agreed

        You can whine all you want like a little girl but the reality is I did nothing illegal and the judge prosecutor and defense attorney even agreed with that

        Again even the defense attorney did not think it was worthy of a motion to suppress or some other sort of remedy

        Dunphy 1
        Reasonoid ignoramus 0

        Nice troll attempt though

        I did bite, so I will grant you props for that!!!

        1. “I simply asked.”

          While fondling your sidearm like a substitute penis in the hopes you would be told ‘no’ so that you could go hands on.

  25. God know I hate to agree with Sotomayor but she is fucking CORRECT

    this is horrible case, and horrible precedent from a court overly deferential to police power

    (In the aggregate)

    Again I am glad it’s irrelevant in my state

  26. This case is directly in line with greater state power and negating the protections of the 4th Amendment, as in Heien v. North Carolina, 574 US ___ (2014). Heien_v._North_Carolina

  27. Holy shit!!!!!


  28. I dunno, but my pro-statist pals keep telling me it’s OK for our rights to be dismissed since they know some cops who are “generally nice guys.”

    1. Most cops are great guys but that’s irrelevant

      One of the reasons I , as a cop, chose the great state of WA is greater civil rights

      Do greater civil rights protections mean sometimes it’s easier for guilty people to get away with crimes ?


      It’s a price we pay – gladly – for Liberty!!

      1. Just so you know, I automatically assume everything coming out of your mouth is a lie until proven otherwise.

        Don’t be offended; I am that way with all stooges from .gov.

  29. The exclusionary rule has always rubbed me the wrong way. But then, just about everything in criminal law, including its very conception, does as well.

    1. I mean, seriously, the entire state of Pennsyltucky, including you, against you?

    2. If criminal law didn’t exist, how many people would reconstruct it as anything like what it’s become? It runs counter to intuition, counter to law generally, in just about any way that comes up.

    3. The exclusionary rule is, perhaps, an imperfect remedy, but given that the Fourth Amendment fails to specify an enforcement mechanism and something should be done in response to its violation, I think it makes sense.

      Do you have an alternative suggestion?

      1. I think the exclusionary rule is good really the best solution

        It’s a powerful disincentive as long as it is properly applied

        I have never believed in the so-called good faith exception to the exclusionary rule which many people advocate for because good faith is not enough in cases where the state is infringing on liberties

        It is the burden of the state (cops) to know the law

        I am not arguing they have to have perfect knowledge

        But criminal suspects should not suffer from police ignorance – it’s that simple

        We had problems in our state for example with departments failing to properly train on the way gallery of open carry and in fact I saw a couple of cases where supervisors actually taught the exact opposite of what is the law

        What helped remedy the situation was open carry WA helping to reach out and get cops properly instructed on the law

        As even a brief perusal of the open carry forums will show it has worked out excellently and I see people open carry all the time and I read reports of open carriers and 99.9% of the time the law is followed NOW

        I’m happy for those who won lawsuits for having their rights violated eg Bellingham PD (ultra liberal Antigun college town)

        1. So why is it after being educated multiple times by informed citizens that many police agencies in Washington continue to use unmarked cars for traffic enforcement in violation of state law?

  30. I am less offended if I read correctly that the search did not happen until after the arrest on an outstanding warrant.

    Handing over the ID seems to me like declining to remain silent.

    1. Handing over the ID seems to me like declining to remain silent.

      The Supreme Court (and the guy with a gun and eager to use it) disagree with you.

      And stopping the car was a seizure.

      1. Well, duh . Exactly correct

        It doesn’t matter what the person volunteers after an illegal stop

        as soon as he stop is made illegally all fruits of that poisonous tree should be suppressed.


        All the time no good faith exception no inevitable discovery doctrine etc.

        I don’t care what a person does after an illegal stop. all evidence should be suppressed

        The one point where I probably disagree with a lot of readers here is I don’t think a person has the right to use physical force to resist a unlawful stop

        Take it from somebody who has benefited from civil action against the police


        worked for me


        By the way it’s awesome to see the acquittals in Baltimore over the purely politically motivated prosecution much like the Trayvon case

        Due process FTW!!

        1. It’s political prosecution to try to hold cops accountable for killing a man?

          Are you insane?

        2. Cop had a perfectly legitimate reason to stop this guy – an arrest warrant. After learning who Streiff was, the arrest was legal. Thus, the search incident to that arrest was legal and thus the drug evidence was admissible even though the manner in which they actually stopped this guy who was a wanted man was technically improper.

          Is the cop supposed to let this guy go once he learned of the warrant? That makes no sense either.

          1. No, the officer did not have a “legitimate reason.” The court opinion says the officer did not know about the warrant until after he stopped the man and obtained ID.

            The issue here is that the police can now use this decision to force everyone to identify just because they ‘might’ have a warrant.

            No, the officer is not suppose to let the guy go; he is supposed to leave him alone until he has probable cause, and even the court admits that cause was lacking.

      2. Meh. This is a bad case. I don’t even understand why SCOTUS took it.

        He was questioned for visiting a drug den. He was arrested for having a warrant. And then they found drugs.

        The best solution to this scenario is to legalize drugs.

  31. Gee, what a concept:
    You shouldn’t be out in public in possession of contraband when there is a valid warrant out for your arrest.
    Add to the Dumb Crook File.

  32. How about this for a system. Cops can arrest and/or search whoever they like, BUT they must pay the victim of their action according to an established schedule. A roadside search of your car might be worth $1000, for example. This is out of the officer’s pocket. If the officer gets a warrant, then the government pays the search compensation. “Probable Cause” is then understood to be the circumstances under which the public is willing to pay for a search. Upon conviction, criminals are fined any payments they were awarded when they were searched.

    This system compensates innocent people if their rights are violated, rather than only helping guilty people. As long as the compensation schedule is set up properly, then choosing when to search becomes a simple cost benefit analysis. If it is really important to catch someone, the government simply pays a lot of money to the innocent people they search along the way. If a cop has a “gut feeling” about someone, he can act on it, but if he’s wrong he’s out hundreds or thousands of dollars.

  33. So the cop had a perfectly legitimate reason to arrest this guy (arrest warrant) but didn’t know it until after he temporarily detained him without reasonable suspicion and checked his ID.

    I call “no harm, no foul”.

    1. Yeah, that’s why I’m begrudgingly with the majority on this. Forget the drugs for a moment and ask yourself whether it’s reasonable that the cop should be allowed to arrest someone – after stopping them illegally – once the cop discovers there’s a warrant out for him for murder. Does he have to let him go because he shouldn’t have stopped him?

      If not, then the search follows the legitimate arrest, not the initial stop. If the search had preceded the arrest then yes, the meth found should be suppressed. If there had been no arrest warrant then any results of a search should be suppressed.

      1. Yes. Everything there flows from the illegal stop. That’s the same argument as “Forget the drugs for a moment and ask yourself whether it’s reasonable that the cop should be allowed to arrest someone — after searching them illegally — when they find evidence of a crime”

        1. No, it isn’t the same argument. Your example is clearly fruit from the poisonous tree since the arrest flowed from an illegal search and only an illegal search. The case in question here adds an extra step between the improper stop and the subsequent search – that of a preexisting bona fide reason to arrest the subject once the cops realized who the subject was.

          Again, forget entirely about the subsequent drug charges. The underlying question the court had to answer is whether it’s constitutional to arrest someone, after an admittedly improper stop, once cops discover the perp was already subject to a proper arrest warrant.

          1. The question is not whether it’s constitutional to arrest someone who is subject to a proper arrest warrant. The question is whether the evidence collected should be suppressed.

            The attenuation exception permits the use of evidence discovered through the government’s misconduct if the connection between the government’s misconduct and the discovery of the evidence is sufficiently weak.

            The connection doesn’t seem so weak to me. It seems quite proximate (and therefore strong) to me. I suppose it could be argued the other way. If someone has examples of both strong and weak attenuation, I’m all ears. The attenuation exception’s origin goes back to Nardone v US.

            Anyway, if you agree with the majority opinion here, then you really can’t be against the police illegally stopping people just to check for traffic warrants. Because the only possible deterrence to them doing so is getting evidence suppressed. Civil rights cases for this sort of misconduct are a once in a blue moon sort of thing. The opinion in this case is prime fodder for statistics-based policing (aka: fishing). The poor (or the lazy) who don’t pay their parking tickets seem to lose some disproportionate rights here. The takeaway here is to pay your parking tickets promptly.

            1. “Anyway, if you agree with the majority opinion here, then you really can’t be against the police illegally stopping people just to check for traffic warrants. Because the only possible deterrence to them doing so is getting evidence suppressed. Civil rights cases for this sort of misconduct are a once in a blue moon sort of thing.”

              sure you can. you even acknowledge there’s a legal remedy for stopping what you suggest. i can see both sides of this pretty easily, but being with the majority isn’t acceptance of greater police harassment.

              1. There’s a legal remedy that’s almost impossible to make use of. Even if it was easy to make use of, we should throw away evidence that was obtained illegally on principle.

                So, it absolutely is acceptance of greater police harassment.

  34. She’s crazy. It does nothing of the sort. Yes, the police stop was illegal and that should have been dealt with in the ruling somehow also, but once the warrant was discovered, everything after that point was legal and shouldn’t be thrown out. At that point, there’s no difference between this situation and if they had just served the warrant on him directly by some other means.

    1. You are missing the point.

      This ruling has essentially allowed the police to be wrong without consequences no matter who the citizen is, no matter how innocent.

      It is essentially saying as well that because someone MIGHT have warrants, they don’t have 4th Amendment rights.

      And she agreed with a Utah Supreme Court that is definitely not liberal.

  35. “attenuated the connection between the unlawful stop and the evidence seized from Strieff incident to arrest,” declared the majority opinion of Justice Clarence Thomas

    Normally I agree with Thomas. My inclination is to disagree here, but it does seem that as per usual, he is actually following the law.

    Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
    An extension of the exclusionary rule established in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385 (1920). This doctrine holds that evidence gathered with the assistance of illegally obtained information must be excluded from trial. Thus, if an illegal interrogation leads to the discovery of physical evidence, both the interrogation and the physical evidence may be excluded, the interrogation because of the exclusionary rule, and the physical evidence because it is the “fruit” of the illegal interrogation. This doctrine is subject to three of important exceptions. The evidence will not be excluded (1) if it was discovered from a source independent of the illegal activity; (2) its discovery was inevitable; or (3) if there is attenuation between the illegal activity and the discovery of the evidence.

    With Sotomayor’s comment, I see no indication that she has ever cracked a law book. “I don’t like the consequences” is not a legal opinion.

  36. Sotomayor: It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”

    I am one of the human cattle on the tax ranch. Just the way you like it.

  37. Andddddd……???

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.