Publication Date



The FourthAmendment's exclusionary rule requires that
criminal courts suppress evidence obtained as a result of
an unconstitutionalsearch or seizure. The Supreme Court
has repeatedly stated that suppression is purely
regulatory, not remedial. Its only purpose is to deter
future police misconduct, not to remedy past privacy or
liberty harms suffered by the defendant. Exclusion, in
other words, is for the benefit of community members who
might, sometime in the future, be subject to police
misconduct like that endured by the defendant.
Exclusion's regulatory purpose would be greatly aided if
criminal courts could identify when a suppression motion
involved Fourth Amendment violations that were
representative of widespreadpatterns of police misconduct
in the jurisdiction. Currently, state and local criminal
courts-where the vast majority of Fourth Amendment
suppression motions are litigated-decide those motions
without the benefit of any contextual information
regarding police practices within the jurisdiction.
Informational bottlenecks and other design defects prevent
criminal courts from systematically recording and
analyzing all of the information that is available to them
regradingpatterns of police misconduct. Procedural and
other reforms could correct these defects and allow state
and local courts to realize their full regulatory potential.
For example, criminal courts should, under appropriate
circumstance, aggregate different defendants' Fourth
Amendment claims and grant group-based suppression.
This will, in turn, incentivize public defenders to
systematically identify and challenge patterns of
unconstitutional police conduct.