Criminal Justice


You are an investigator with the District Attorney’s Investigation Team for a major metropolitan area. You are one of the recently hired 16 new investigators that will be sprinkled throughout the department. All 16 of you have had little time as investigators and the Chief’s concern is that you all are properly trained in issues of the exclusionary rule to avoid problems later on during investigations. This is a political hot potato because these are supposed to be the best investigators in the jurisdiction. Your goal is to develop a 5-6 page white paper that outlines concerns for Exclusionary Rule issues.

In a white paper of 5-6 pages to be presented to the newly assigned investigators, please include responses to the bulleted issues listed below. It is critical that when you make a statement of fact in your presentation that you cite the reference you obtained the information from in the text of the paper and that the reference is included in your reference page. As always your paper will be submitted in the APA format current edition. No abstract is required as this is a short position paper but a title page, reference page, and appropriate running header with page numbers are necessary.
Assignment Guidelines
Address the following in 5-6 pages:

-Describe the “Exclusionary Rule” and what it is meant to protect the citizens of this country.
-What are the benefits of the Exclusionary Rule? Explain.
-Identify at least two methods of demonstrative evidence which would explain the concept of “Best Evidence”. You may use scenarios to describe the theory of Best Evidence.
-Explain to the newly appointed investigators the absolute adherence to avoiding any evidentiary issue that would result in a “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” violation. Explain the ramifications and results of such a violation. Use at least two scenarios to demonstrate this issue.
-Explain to the new investigators the idea behind the court’s displeasure with issues like the Christian Burial Speech. What might it mean in the long run to a serious case just as it did with Brewer v. Williams?
-Explain the types of behavior that may result in the application of the Shocking the Conscience of the Court Test. Provide at least one scenario as demonstrative instruction.
-Provide instruction that coercion is a clear violation of the constitution. What areas are violated and what types of behavior are considered coercion.
-What are the liabilities of the Exclusionary Rule? Explain.
-What types of errors can occur? Explain
-What ramifications can result from these errors? Explain.

Be sure to reference all sources using APA style.
Note: For this exercise do not involve the military use of waterboarding on enemy combatants. That is another issue that your investigators will not have to face. Provide an introduction paragraph (containing the opening statement, scope, thesis) and a conclusion paragraph (Restating the main idea, summarizing the main arguments, and bringing closure to the essay).


Exclusionary Rule


Introduction. 2

A Short Description About the Exclusionary Rule. 2

Benefits of the Exclusionary Rule. 4

Theory of Best Evidence. 4

“Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” Violation. 4

Types of Behaviors That Evoke the “Shocking the Conscience of the Court Test”. 6

Coercion in Light of the Constitution. 6

Liabilities of the Exclusionary Rule. 6

Types of Errors That Can Occur and Their Ramifications. 6

Conclusion. 7

References. 8


Imagine walking home to find law enforcement officers unlawfully ransacking your house. The American people have over the years seen the development of various state and federal laws geared at safeguarding the American dream. According to Leonetti (2009), most American states have enacted individual exclusionary remedies for unlawfully gained evidence contrary to the provisions of the state statutes or constitutions. The Exclusion Rule is among the laws that have been enacted with the aim of protecting citizens from forced self-incrimination and unlawful seizures and searches. This paper outlines some pertinent issues that revolve around the Exclusionary Rule such as its benefits and limitations, the concept of best evidence, and “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” inter alia.


A Short Description About the Exclusionary Rule

            The exclusionary rule connotes a legal statute that stipulates that any evidence that law enforcement agencies collect or analyze in contravention of the constitutional rights of the defendant is at times considered inadmissible in a court of law as part of criminal court proceedings. According to Re (2014), the statute follows directly from the constitutional safeguards such as the Fifth Amendment which stipulates that one cannot be compelled to be an eyewitness against himself during criminal court proceedings. The statute dates back to the pre-independence US as evidenced by the fact that courts of England barred self-incriminating evidence that was availed during court proceedings as a result of official duress despite its dependability (Davies, 2003).

            The rule plays a crucial role in protecting American citizens from unfair prosecution. Berg (2008) posits that the statute is rooted in the Fourth Amendment and it sets out to shield citizens from unlawful seizures and searches. This implies that no search or arrest warrants shall be issued devoid of plausible cause.  As such, the statute is intended to provide a deterrent and remedy to law enforcement officers and prosecutors who gather evidence illegally in violation of the Bill of Rights, thus compelling defendants to self-incriminate.

            The 1961 Mapp v. Ohio case is a significant point of reference in regard to the application of this rule. Law enforcement officers acting on a tip-off that a suspected terrorist wanted for questioning in a bombing investigation was hiding in a Cleveland apartment forced entry into Dollree Mapp’s house after the latter denied them entry for lacking a search warrant.  During the search process, the law enforcement officers found numerous pornographic items in her house. Mapp was later convicted of possessing obscene materials (Rutledge, 2011). She lodged an appeal to the Ohio State Supreme Court but failed on grounds that federal exclusionary rules did not bind state prosecutions. She then lodged an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court which overturned the court ruling and imposed the rules on all American states.

            Similarly, evidence obtained from unlawful interrogation or wiretapping to self-incriminate the defendant by law enforcement officers cannot be used during court proceedings. The statute allows defendants to lodge disputes on the acceptability of evidence by bringing a pre-trial motion to ban the evidence. Should the evidence be suppressed, this means that it cannot be introduced or discusses during the court trial. The statute also seeks to shield citizens from violations of their right to counsel which is stipulated under the Sixth Amendment. The statute, however, does not apply in certain cases such as parole revocation hearings, grand jury trials, and civil cases.

Benefits of the Exclusionary Rule

            The exclusionary rule has many benefits to the American people. First of all, it shields citizens from unreasonable seizure and search. For instance, in the wake of terror attacks such as the bombing during the Boston Marathon, police officers often search from house to house often without search warrants as they try to nab the terror suspects. Should drugs be found in one of the houses during the search, the exclusionary rule would be evoked thus prevent the house owners from being charged with the possession of drugs. Secondly, the statute prevents law enforcement officers from fabricating charges by manufacturing false evidence. This means that law enforcement officers cannot maliciously ‘plant’ false evidence in a house during their purported house search. The statute also cements the principle that defendants are innocent and that the state must show beyond reasonable misgiving or doubt that one is guilty for him to be convicted as such.

Theory of Best Evidence

            The best evidence rule holds that an original copy of a document is paramount evidence. As such, secondary evidence such as fax or photocopies is inadmissible in a court of law whenever original documents are obtainable. The rule stipulates several guidelines under which one of the parties to an ongoing court trial may request that it be allowed to put forward as evidence copies of the contents of a recording, photograph or document in the absence of the original document.

“Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” Violation

            According to Dressler (2002), the fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal figure of speech used to describe illegally obtained evidence. In simple terms, this metaphor implies that if the source of evidence (tree) or evidence itself is polluted (poisonous) then anything derived from it (fruit) is polluted as well. Akin to the provisions of the exceptional rule, ‘polluted’ evidence is generally inadmissible in a court of law (Gaines & Miller, 2006). For instance, if a law enforcement officer carried out an unconstitutional house search and obtained evidence (such as documents) related to a certain crime, that evidence would be inadmissible in court based on this doctrine.


            A good case in point when this doctrine was evoked is the Christian Burial Speech case. The case held that a law enforcement officer had violated the constitutional rights to counsel of a murder suspect by trying to bring out incriminating statements from the suspect during court proceedings, even though the officer had not interrogated him literarily. Apparently, the officer had appealed to the suspect’s conscience and influenced him to show the police where he had hidden the body against his lawyer’s counsel. Whereas the suspect did not confess to the killing, he implicitly confessed to hiding the corpse by taking the law enforcement officers to it. During the trial, the police unlawful ‘interrogation’ had to be suppressed. The 1977 case had been returned to the Supreme Court in 1983 following the pronouncement of a guilty verdict upon retrial.

            Another example is the Wong Sun v. the United States, in which case the prosecution introduced drugs into the evidence presented in court against the defendant. The Supreme Court held that the evidence was inadmissible as it was obtained during a wrongful arrest. As such, the drugs are fruits of the illegal arrest tree. This case and other similar cases often tend to pull the court from opposing ends such as whether to evoke the Sixth Amendment doctrine of the right to counsel or the Fifth amendment. In addition, guilty defendants tend to evade justice leaving unimaginable scars amongst the victims’ families.

Types of Behaviors That Evoke the “Shocking the Conscience of the Court Test”

            Judges often use the ‘shock the conscience’ test whenever they want to determine situations that are wrong or unjust necessitating the intervention of the court. For instance, a case of an excessive verdict (a verdict delivered by a prejudiced jury against the defendant or when the jury panel is carried away by emotion) may warrant court intervention. In case the jury awards money damages that exceed the normal compensation that is normally awarded, the presiding judge may reduce the award.

Coercion in Light of the Constitution

            According to Tribe (2014), plea bargaining is an iron-clad coercive practice currently tolerated and accepted in modern-day systems of criminal justice. They entail offering defendants lower sentences by the government in the exchange of guilty pleas. As such, the defendant loses all the rights accorded to defendants during court proceedings in exchange for less punishment. He further posits that this government behavior falls short of being considered coercive and contravenes the constitutional provisions.

Liabilities of the Exclusionary Rule

            The rule does not apply in civil matters as it only applies during criminal cases. Moreover, it allows guilty people to go scot-free and adds cost to the justice system in terms of its implementations. The rule also bars the government from utilizing most evidence gained in violation of the American constitution thus exonerating criminals.

Types of Errors That Can Occur and Their Ramifications

            Judicial errors such as the fundamental error can occur during court proceedings. This is a mistake that occurs when a judgment infringes on a defendant’s federally stipulated fundamental right.  There are two types of judicial errors that fall under two categories namely plain errors and harmless errors. Harmless errors normally do not have a detrimental impact on the rights of the individual. As such, higher courts do not remand or reverse decisions by lower courts that resulted in the error. Plain errors, on the other hand, affect judicial integrity, fairness as well as the reputation of court trials by the public. These errors are often rectified through decisions by higher courts to remand or reverse the earlier decision by the lower court. Fundamental errors can either be plain errors or harmless errors. They occur in various forms. For instance, whenever a defendant is, in fact, innocent or stands convicted of non-criminal conduct.


In conclusion, the exclusionary rule is a vital statute that protects law enforcement officers from unlawfully seizing or searching citizens. With increased concerns about racial profiling, the law comes in handy to ensure that innocent citizens are not subjected to wrongful prosecutions. Amidst those benefits to the citizenry, the rule has its own fair share of cons. For instance, the rule does not apply in civil matters, allows guilty people to go scot-free and adds cost to the justice system in terms of its implementations. As such, there is a need to ensure that as we ensure that innocent people go scot-free and that perpetrators of horrible crimes are punished.


Re, R. (2014). The Due Process Exclusionary Rule: A new textual foundation for a rule in crisis Harvard Law Review, 127, 1885-1893.

Berg, B.L. (2008). Criminal Investigation New York, NY: McGraw-Hill,

Leonetti, C. (2009). “Independent and Adequate: Maryland’s State Exclusionary Rule for       Illegally Obtained Evidence”. University of Baltimore Law Review. 38, 231.

Davies, T. (2003). Farther and Farther from the Original Fifth Amendment: The Re-characterization of the Right Against Self-Incrimination as a ‘Trial Right’ in Chavez V.             Martinez. Tennessee Law Review, 70, 987–1045.

Dressler, J. (2002). Understanding Criminal Procedure (3rd ed.). Newark, NJ: LexisNexis.

Gaines, L. & Miller, L. (2006). Criminal Justice in Action: The Core. Belmont, CA:             Thomson/Wadsworth.

Rutledge, D. (2011). Four Famous Cases. Police Magazine. Web

Tribe, L. (2014). The Constitution, coercion, and bribery at the Roberts Court. The Washington     Post. Web.

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