The Supreme Court’s decision came today [Monday, June 20] that it is officially legal to use illegally obtained evidence in court against a defendant. The decision came with a five to three split in favor of illegally obtained evidence being viable in court against defendants.
An anonymous phone call to the police department in Salt Lake City, Utah alerting authorities of potential drug related activities caused the police department to spy on the house and illegally stop and question Joseph Edward Strieff, the soon to be defendant in the case. When Strieff walked out of the house, a detective questioned him and checked for his name in a police database, resulting in the findings of a “small traffic warrant” in which the detective arrested and illegally searched him and found methamphetamine in his pocket.
Allowing illegal evidence to be used in court against defendants is warned to be a violation of Americans’ constitutional rights. According to Salon, Strieff’s attorney argued that “allowing police to use these illegally obtained drugs as evidence in court would effectively permit them to continue with such illegal searches in the future.” The Utah Supreme Court agreed with the ruling, but the US Supreme Court ruled against it.
The Fourth Amendment protects against illegal searches and seizures. The new Supreme Court ruling leaves Americans unprotected against this and susceptible to trouble, even if you are doing nothing wrong. Justice Sonia Sotomayor says, “If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant.”