This note challenges the Court's implicit assumption that a policeman's good faith reliance is relevant in determining whether the fourth amendment has been violated. That assumption is incompatible with precedent. Prior decisions suggest good faith reliance should not be considered until after the court has established that a violation occurred and applicability of the exclusionary rule is at issue. Without offering a coherent explanation for its departure from precedent, the DeFillippo Court casually added police good faith to the already complex body of substantive search and seizure law. Thus, the decision created yet another dimension of disquieting uncertainty in the doctrine. Moreover, the Court's deference to a police officer's good faith reliance on a substantive law encourages the use of sham substantive offenses to avoid fourth amendment limits. Finally, the Court's emphasis on good faith reliance may misdirect the lower courts, prompting them to substitute the judgments of those who enact and enforce the laws for the disinterested scrutiny of a magistrate.
Richard E. Gifford,
Constitutional Law: Search and Seizure—The Role of Police Officer Good Faith in Substantive Fourth Amendment Doctrine—Michigan v. De Fillippo, 443, U.S. 31 (1979),
55 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol55/iss4/7