Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Jacqueline E. Ross and Stephen C. Thaman
Chapter 8: A comparative perspective on the exclusionary rule in search and seizure cases
Judicial exclusion of evidence obtained during an illegal search or seizure is controversial because the evidence is almost always reliable proof of guilt, and thus suppression might well prevent conviction of an obvious criminal. Nonetheless, exclusion of such evidence occurs relatively frequently in the United States, and, over the past several decades, has become more prevalent in a number of other countries as well. At bottom, these various exclusion regimes rely on one of three rationales: deterrence of police misconduct; promotion of systemic integrity; or vindication of fundamental rights.Since the 1970s, the United States Supreme Court has viewed the exclusionary rule primarily as a means of deterring police conduct that unduly infringes privacy, liberty or autonomy interests. But in years past the Court also proffered two other reasons for exclusion: the importance of ensuring the integrity of the legal system (primarily by avoiding judicial complicity with police illegality) and the need to vindicate constitutional guarantees. Some version of one or both of the latter two rationales also appears to be the primary motivation behind the exclusionary rules in other countries. In contrast to the United States, however, in most other countries exclusion is not very common. Those countries that focus on systemic integrity take into account not only the de-legitimizing impact of failing to exclude illegally seized evidence but also the truth-denigrating effect of excluding evidence.
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