No “Good-Faith” Required: The Broad Interpretation of the Davis Good-Faith Exception to the Exclusionary Rule

Author: Cameron Downer, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

On June 16, 2011, the United States Supreme Court in Davis v. United States expanded the application of the good-faith exception to the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule.[1] The Court held that the exclusionary rule does not apply to Fourth Amendment violations when officers act in objectively reasonable reliance on binding precedent that is later overturned.[2]

The ambiguous holding in Davis failed to give a bright-line rule to help courts determine whether the good-faith exception should apply. Instead of applying the more equitable narrow interpretation, some courts are applying an overly broad interpretation of Davis that allows officers to pick and choose what law to rely on in justifying their police practices. That interpretation of Davis has led to the inequitable adjudication of Fourth Amendment violations and is converting Fourth Amendment rights into a “mere form of words.”[3] As a consequence, with the development and use of new police technology, the broad interpretation of the exclusionary rule will leave people vulnerable to Fourth Amendment violations without the right to a remedy.

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