The Interaction of the Standing and Inevitable Discovery Doctrines of the Exclusionary Rule: Use of Evidence Illegally Obtained from the Defendant and a Third Party

Author:Julie M. Giddings
Position::J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law

This Note presents a split between two federal circuit courts regarding the interaction of the standing doctrine and the inevitable discovery exception to the exclusionary rule. The courts had to decide whether evidence obtained illegally from both a criminal defendant and a third party may be admitted in court through use of the inevitable discovery exception to the exclusionary rule. The... (see full summary)


Julie M. Giddings: J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law, 2006; B.A., The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2003. I would like to thank my family and friends for all their support and encouragement. Thanks also to my editor, Katie Gross, for her valuable comments and suggestions, and to the rest of the Volume 90 and 91 Iowa Law Review members for their hard work on this piece. Page 1065

I Introduction

It's tough being a criminal in today's world. From three-strikes policies1and harsh drug sentences2 to politicians campaigning on "tough on crime" platforms,3 it is evident that lawmakers are not fooling around when it comes to prosecuting crime.4 The Supreme Court plays an important role in defining the scope of government power in investigating and prosecuting crime. In criminal procedure cases, there is a tension between protecting the constitutional rights of individuals and advancing the interests of society in prosecuting crime.5 Today's political climate emphasizes the public's and the government's interests in prosecuting crime over protecting the constitutional rights of the accused.

Indeed, the last thirty years have seen a rapid decline of criminal defendants' constitutional protections following the Warren Court's criminal procedure revolution in the 1960s. The Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment6 jurisprudence underwent ground-breaking expansion under Page 1066 the Warren Court, with such decisions as Miranda v. Arizona,7 Massiah v. United States,8 and Mapp v. Ohio.9 While the basic structure of the Warren Court's criminal procedure jurisprudence has remained in place,10significant inroads have been made as subsequent Courts have become "less sympathetic to claims of individual rights and more accommodating to assertions of the need for public order."11

One important area where this shift has occurred is in the application of the exclusionary rule to evidence obtained by illegal means. A recent circuit split presents a question of limiting the application of the exclusionary rule in a novel way: how the inevitable discovery and standing restrictions on the exclusionary rule interact when the government attempts to use an illegal search of a third party as the basis for applying the inevitable discovery exception to the exclusionary rule. This Note presents the split between the First and Seventh Circuits on this issue and analyzes which decision better fits with exclusionary rule jurisprudence. In order to give background to this discussion, Part II briefly describes the exclusionary rule and explains the development of the standing doctrine and the inevitable discovery exception. Part III discusses United States v. Scott,12 the First Circuit case, and United States v. Johnson,13 the Seventh Circuit case. Part IV evaluates these opposing decisions based on the Supreme Court's rationales for the exclusionary rule and the Court's rationales in applying the inevitable discovery exception. Based on these considerations, this Note concludes that United States v. Johnson is the more sound and just decision.

II The Exclusionary Rule And Its Exceptions

The exclusionary rule bars the use of evidence obtained from illegal searches and seizures at trial, in order to safeguard criminal defendants' Page 1067 Fourth Amendment rights.14 The Supreme Court adopted the exclusionary rule in a 1914 case, holding that evidence obtained illegally from a criminal defendant must be excluded from trial.15 In its decision, the Court called upon the integrity of the judicial process to uphold constitutional principles.16 Thus, despite rationales espoused in future cases, the exclusionary rule was originally based on constitutional mandates and a concern that courts should not sanction the illegal conduct of government actors.17 Page 1068

The Court has since added additional rationales for the exclusionary rule, and has focused on deterring police misconduct.18 Deterrence has become the primary focus of the Supreme Court's exclusionary rule jurisprudence.19 In Mapp v. Ohio, which extended the operation of the exclusionary rule to the states in 1961, the Court relied on several rationales for the exclusionary rule.20 The Court stated that the purposes of the rule are: (1) to act as a deterrent to illegal police searches; (2) to uphold the imperative of judicial integrity by demanding adherence to the Constitution; and (3) to give effect to Fourth Amendment protections.21 In 1968, the Court again relied on both the judicial integrity and deterrence rationales in deciding a case.22 However, the Supreme Court's recent jurisprudence has limited the exclusionary rule rationale primarily to deterrence, weighing the deterrent effect of excluding illegally obtained evidence against the social Page 1069 costs of applying the rule.23 This makes deterrence currently the most important consideration.

Since its inception, the exclusionary rule has been widely debated.24Concerns about restrictions on police authority and "the criminal [going] free because the constable has blundered"25 have led the Court to impose many limitations on the operation of the exclusionary rule. The Supreme Court has increasingly tightened restrictions and broadened exceptions to the rule, confining its use only to situations based on the core rationale of deterring unlawful police conduct.26 The Court has developed multiple exceptions to the rule, including the Fourth Amendment standing doctrine27 and the closely linked inevitable discovery and independent Page 1070 source doctrines, which have gradually encroached on the operation of the exclusionary rule.28

A The Standing Doctrine

The Fourth Amendment standing doctrine prohibits a defendant from raising objections to illegally obtained evidence unless the defendant's own Fourth Amendment rights were violated in obtaining the evidence.29 The defendant must be the victim of the illegal search, and has the burden of establishing that the defendant's own rights were violated.30 In Jones v. United States, which announced the standing rule, the Supreme Court stated that in order to have standing to assert a Fourth Amendment violation, the defendant must be the "one against whom the search was directed, as distinguished from one who claims prejudice only through the use of evidence gathered as a consequence of a search or seizure directed at someone else."31

The Court further developed the standing doctrine in Alderman v. United States.32 In Alderman, the government conceded that it had used illegal electronic eavesdropping to overhear the defendants' conversation.33 The Court rejected the defendants' broad interpretation of the exclusionary rule34 and adhered to the principle that only those whose own Fourth Amendment rights were violated by a search may urge suppression of the evidence obtained from the search.35 The Court noted that anything that deters illegal searches is not necessarily required by the Fourth Amendment.36 The Court decided that the benefit of extending the rule to Page 1071 bar evidence illegally obtained from people other than the defendants was not enough to justify further intrusion on the interest of prosecuting criminals.37

The Supreme Court has since sought to limit the original language of "one against whom the search was directed" from Jones v. United States.38 In Rakas v. Illinois, the defendants sought to suppress evidence obtained from the illegal search of a car in which they were passengers, based on the argument that the search was "directed" at them.39 The Court declined to "relax or broaden" the rule of standing announced in Jones in favor of the defendants' theory that they were a target of the search as passengers of the car, and thus were the ones at whom the search was directed.40 The Court expressly rejected the broader reading of the Jones language.41 According to the Court, a broader interpretation was not appropriate because "[e]ach time the exclusionary rule is applied it exacts a substantial social cost for the vindication of Fourth Amendment rights."42

Even where law enforcement officers purposefully take advantage of the standing doctrine to elicit evidence from an illegal search of a third party, the Court has not allowed a defendant to challenge the admission of the evidence obtained by the third-party search.43 That was the case in United States v. Payner, where the IRS had counseled its agents to disregard the Fourth Amendment and illegally search a banker's briefcase in order to obtain evidence to use against the bank's customers.44 The Court stated that it was understandable for the trial court to want to deter purposeful violations of constitutional rights of those not likely to become defendants.45The Court also agreed that "[n]o court should condone the unconstitutional behavior . . . of those who...

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