It is tempting to commemorate the 2014 centenary of the exclusionary rule by celebrating our historically progressive role in constitutional rights protection, but those familiar with the facts know that Fourth Amendment violations persist unabated. As New Yorkers consider Judge Scheindlin’s damning assessment of police stop-and-frisk practices, and the country erupts in protests following fatal police encounters, are legal scholars who continue to pontificate on constitutional bona fides addressing “real” Fourth Amendment questions?
Traditional academic abstraction and artificial doctrinal divides obscure the fact that rights and remedies are defined by their operation. Constitutional rights have no value if, after they have been violated, meaningful remedies are unattainable. This Article focuses instead on the functional relationship between rights and remedies and on *90 new constraints imposed by judicial recalibrations of the quantum and burden of remedial proof.
The Roberts Court’s recent shotgun wedding linking exclusion to defense evidence establishing police officer “bad faith” or systemic police negligence illustrates the centrality of proof and evidence questions. Over the past few years, the Court has increased the quantum of defense suppression proof while simultaneously eliminating burden shifting to the prosecution. These shifts make most Fourth Amendment violations irremediable. It is not feasible to demand that defendants aggregate data establishing systemic police negligence. Defendants who seek, in the alternative, to prove that an illegal search was committed knowingly, recklessly, or with gross negligence invariably lack direct evidence of police officer intent. By changing the rules governing suppression under the guise of a narrow focus on deterrence, the Roberts Court has ensured that nearly all illegally seized evidence will be admitted. The only time evidence will be suppressed is when a defendant can prove circumstantially that police misconduct was so patently egregious that defense evidence supports a judicial inference of police “bad faith.”
Joelle Anne Moreno, Rights, Remedies, and the Quantum and Burden of Proof, 3 Va. J. Crim. L. 89, 174 (2015).