Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, L.Ed.2d 1081 (1961)
The police suspected Mapp of
harboring a fugitive. They went to her house and asked if they could
search it, but she refused.
A few hours later, the police
came back waving a piece of paper they claimed was a search warrant (which
it wasn't). Mapp grabbed it. The police immediately arrested Mapp, and
forcibly entered her house.
Inside, they found a big
chest filled with porn and sex toys.
Mapp claimed that the chest
belonged to a boarder, and she had no idea what was in it.
During the search, Mapp's
lawyer showed up, but the police refused to allow him to talk to Mapp,
and ignored his demand that they get a search warrant before entering the
Mapp was charged with
possession of obscene material.
At trial, Mapp argued that
since the police did not have a warrant, their search was illegal, and
therefore the evidence found should be excluded based on the 4th Amendment.
The trial judge allowed the
evidence to be admitted.
Mapp was convicted of
possession of obscene materials and sentenced to seven years in prison.
The Ohio Supreme Court upheld
the conviction. Mapp appealed.
The Ohio Supreme Court
agreed with Mapp that, "the methods employed to obtain the evidence
were such as to offend a sense of justice."
However the Ohio Supreme
Court differentiated between evidence that was peacefully seized from an
inanimate object (the trunk) rather than forcibly seized from an
The US Supreme Court
overturned the conviction.
The US Supreme Court noted
that the 4th Amendment
says nothing about the remedy for an illegal search and seizure.
Exclusion only became the Federal standard after Weeks.
v. United States (232 U.S. 383 (1914)).
However, the Court found
that, "since the 4th Amendment's right of privacy has been declared enforceable against the
States through the Due Process Clause of the 14th
Amendment, it is enforceable against
them by the same sanction of exclusion as is used against the Federal
Basically, the Court was
saying that if there is a universal right to privacy, all of the
jurisdictions should enforce that right in the same way, in order to be
The Court also looked to the
other suggested remedies for 4th Amendment violations, and found that they were
For example, civil lawsuits
against the police sound like a good solution, but they require money to
file, and there is little chance that a convicted felon could prevail in
a jury trial against the policeman who uncovered his crimes.
Since exclusion is only relevant to a defendant who is on trial,
what is the remedy for those people who are entirely innocent? If the
police find no contraband, then there is no remedy for the person's
violation of privacy. Is the exclusionary rule fair since it gives the guilty a remedy, but
gives no remedy to the innocent?
This decision overturned Wolf
v. Colorado (338 U.S. 25 (1949)),
which had said that since the remedy for a violation of the 4th
Amendment was not specified in the
Constitution, States had the option of using different remedies as long as
they were fair.
The difference was probably
that when Wolf had been decided,
2/3rds of the States did not follow the exclusionary rule,
while by the time this case was decided, more than half of the States
(including California) followed the exclusionary rule.