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Admissability of Evidence Based on Erroneous Existence of Warrant

Date Posted to Site: 05/28/2009

#8) Herring v. United States (decided January 14, 2009)

5-4. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion in favor of the United States. This case from Alabama examined if evidence seized in an arrest made without probable cause and based on the erroneous existence of a warrant can still be used against a defendant. The majority ruling concluded that the evidence is admissible.

Officers arrested Bennie Dean Herring on the false but good faith belief that he had an outstanding warrant. A search showed Herring possessed drugs and a gun for which he was found guilty at trial. Herring claimed the searchand convictionwas an unjustified breech of his Fourth Amendment rights because the Coffee County Sheriff's Department had no valid reason to arrest him in the first place.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that "when police mistakes leading to an unlawful search are the result of isolated negligence attenuated from the search, rather than systemic error or reckless disregard of constitutional requirements," no Fourth Amendment rights are violated.

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