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The Champion

December 2017 , Page 17 

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Breaking Blue: Challenging Police Officer Credibility at Motions to Suppress

By Jennifer Sellitti

Every time a police officer puts his left hand on the Bible, raises his right hand in the air, and swears to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, he is inviting the factfinder to judge his credibility. For defense attorneys operating in a world in which “blue lives” matter and police officers are revered as inherently trustworthy, this creates an uphill battle. That hill is steeper when it comes to motions to suppress evidence seized in searches with or without a warrant because it is the judge alone who decides whether the officer is telling the truth.

The law will not save the day. Defense attorneys like to think that standards such as “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion” are stalwart legal principles with clear definitions, but the case law tells a different story. These standards have been described by State and Federal courts as “flexible,” “fluid,” and “case dependent.”1 

Current events will not save the day. Despite the constant flow of news stories

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