Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dolly Mapp

Living With Mapp

Cops and prosecutors across America were infuriated by the decision, which they saw as another impediment to catching crooks, in addition to an infringement upon state rights by the federal government.

Yet they were forced to learn to live with the ruling and its implications.

The law enforcement protocols that resulted from Mapp v. Ohio persisted for 40 years with some tweaking.

Chief Justice Warren Burger
Chief Justice Warren Burger
Most importantly, the more conservative Burger Court in 1984 added a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule.

It ruled in a federal case that evidence need not be excluded if the warrant used is found to defective due to an honest mistake. These could include factual errors in a police affidavit used to secure the warrant.

Justice Byron White wrote that the good-faith exception pertains when there is no police illegality but not when an officer knowingly uses false information to obtain a judges authorization for a search.

Law enforcers hailed the change. But some critics view it as part of a gradual erosion of the Mapp ruling.

The Intruders
The Intruders
In Samuel Dashs book The Intruders, published just before he died in May 2004, the Watergate investigator wrote that the terrorist attacks in 2001 had diluted the Mapp ruling and other standards of law for searches and seizures in America.

Worse, he said, is the apathy toward the governments new methods of accusations and evidence collection.

For the most part, we have not been concerned over the many illegal government searches and seizures committed frequently all around us, Dash wrote. We have accepted, apparently, law enforcement officials rationalizations that, on balance, fighting crime, and now terror, should be considered by the people to have a greater priority than some technicalities in the Bill of Rights...Alarmingly, it reveals popular complacence to constitutional abuses in the name of public safety.

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