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The Champion

February 2009 , Page 56 

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Search & Seizure Commentary

By Cynthia Hujar Orr

An Exclusionary Rule In Search of a Lifeline

When sloppy recordkeeping by law enforcement results in improperly obtained evidence, that evidence can still be used in court, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Herring v. United States. Does this January 14, 2009, decision mark the beginning of the end for the exclusionary rule? Only time will tell.

Herring, a 5-4 decision, began when Bennie Herring went to the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department to retrieve something from his impounded truck. Because of Herring’s long criminal record, a deputy checked to see if there were outstanding warrants for him. Dale County, an adjoining jurisdiction, incorrectly reported that Herring had an outstanding warrant. Based on this information, the deputy pulled Herring over after he left the impound lot. The officer discovered drugs and a weapon in the vehicle in a search incident to arrest. Dale County then notified the officer that Herring did not have an outstanding warrant. Herring sought to suppress the e

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