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S. Edmund Johnson

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Why Can't Improperly Obtained Evidence Be Used In A Criminal Trial?

In the United States (and possibly other countries as well), whenever evidence in a criminal case is obtained improperly, it is not admissible for trial, and is thrown out. When I say 'improperly', I'm referring to evidence obtained without proper procedure, search warrant, etc. In many cases, this has led to the guilty party not being brought to justice. Not being a lawyer, but rather an engineer with a reasonably logical mind, I find that this practice is totally illogical. I mean, evidence is evidence. There is no real logic in restricting evidence.

I can't believe that this tenet of law was actually written as such, but rather I believe that it had to have been some sort of precedent created by some judge or jurist. And it may have been descended down from old English law. But somewhere along the line, some totally illogical person thought it would be a good way to discourage the police from abusing their powers. In other words, punishing the police. Unfortunately, it is not the police that are punished, but rather the public.

So I actually have three points/questions here:
• Why not instead say, evidence is evidence, and whether obtained legally or illegally, why should it not still be used in a criminal trial?
• And if the evidence was obtained illegally, then why not punish the police with suitable jail time or suitable fines in order to discourage the abuse of police powers?
• Finally, why cannot this tenet of law be struck down with a new law that allows ALL evidence to be used in a trial, and establish proper punishment for any abuses used in obtaining the evidence?

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  • Aug 30 2012: To actually address your questions...
    • Why not instead say, evidence is evidence, and whether obtained legally or illegally, why should it not still be used in a criminal trial? So kill someone to convict someone is somehow valid to you..

    • And if the evidence was obtained illegally, then why not punish the police with suitable jail time or suitable fines in order to discourage the abuse of police powers? Abuse of police powers? What if the citizenry decides to take on the task because they perceive police to be limited on their powers, batman style? We could have parallel justice organizations that will be illegal but police protected, we can call them the justice league.

    • Finally, why cannot this tenet of law be struck down with a new law that allows ALL evidence to be used in a trial, and establish proper punishment for any abuses used in obtaining the evidence? Because you destroy fair trial. How can you presume innocence and abuse an individual's right only to then use that against them? How is that fair? Waht if I killed that guy to get my wife's killer free? Eye for an eye?

    Too complicated... Even for law
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      Aug 30 2012: "So kill someone to convict someone is somehow valid to you.."

      Give me a break. How bizarre is your thinking???

      "Abuse of police powers? What if the citizenry decides to take on the task because they perceive police to be limited on their powers, batman style?"

      That situation already exists.

      To Quote Barry Palmer below:

      "By the way, the Supreme Court has ruled that evidence obtained by a person NOT in law enforcement, and not acting as an agent for law enforcement, is admissible even if an illegal act was involved. Go figure that one."

      "Because you destroy fair trial. How can you presume innocence and abuse an individual's right only to then use that against them? How is that fair? Waht if I killed that guy to get my wife's killer free? Eye for an eye?"

      Your thinking really is bizzare.
      • Aug 31 2012: You can call my thinking bizarre if you like but that is the point, these subjects require you to think differently.

        Mr. Palmer is right. If a private citizen commits a crime to obtain the evidence then it is admissible. What you seem to miss, as well as Mr. Palmer, is that this whole rule is to protect citizens from government. It is meant to curb government's power. It is not meant to protect criminals, it is meant to protect citizens from overzealous governments.

        Put yourself in a court of law. Think you are the defendant. Pretend everyone thinks you are guilty. Now think the police has it in for you because your name is Edmund. What do you think your odds are for a fair trial?
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          Sep 1 2012: .
          You're missing the point. See my additional explanation above.

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