Search & Seizure Commentary: Moving to Suppress After Utah v. Strieff

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Utah v. Strieff curtailed Fourth Amendment protections. The government conceded the initial stop of Edward Strieff was unlawful, but nonetheless said the arrest, search, and seizure were lawful pursuant to the attenuation doctrine (i.e., unlawfully seized evidence can be admitted when the connection between unlawful police conduct and obtaining evidence is either remote in time or has been interrupted by an intervening circumstance). Defense attorneys Bridget Krause and Deja Vishny recommend that defense attorneys focus their litigation strategy on the third prong of the attenuation analysis — showing that the police officer’s conduct was purposeful and flagrant. The authors offer several scenarios in which — notwithstanding Strieff — the defense might prevail in a motion to suppress evidence.