Hastings Law Journal


Several Justices of the United States Supreme Court have espoused a "good faith" exception to the fourth amendment exclusionary rule. The exception would permit the use at trial of evidence obtained by government agents who reasonably, but mistakenly, believed they were conducting a legal search and seizure. The Court has broached the subject of an analogous good faith exception for evidence obtained in violation of the fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Several Justices have suggested that a violation of "Miranda rights" during police interrogation of a criminal suspect should not necessarily prevent the resulting evidence from being used at the suspect's trial. This Article critiques this emerging good faith exception to the Miranda rule. The Article first examines the fourth amendment exclusionary rule and the proposed good faith exception to that rule. It then traces the history of the fifth amendment exclusionary rule and examines the landmark decision in Miranda v. Arizona. Throughout, the Article focuses on the doctrinal divergence of the fourth and fifth amendment exclusionary rules. The Article considers and criticizes proposals for a good faith exception to the fifth amendment exclusionary rule, and discusses the practical implications of the proposed exception. The Article concludes that the suggested analogy between the fourth and fifth amendment exclusionary rules rests on fundamental confusion about the scope and purpose of each of the rules, and about the policy of deterrence. Since the proposed exception would subvert fundamental constitutional principles and seriously threaten the vitality of Miranda, the Court should eschew any good faith exception to the fifth amendment exclusionary rule.

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