On Monday, the United States Supreme Court sided with the state of Utah on a Fourth Amendment search case, ruling that police can use evidence of a crime in court from an unconstitutional search if they find the suspect has one or more outstanding arrest warrants.
But it’s the dissenting opinion in the case that has the Internet talking.
The Court voted 5-to-3 in Utah v. Strieff to reverse a decision of the Utah Supreme Court on an earlier case.
In December 2006, an anonymous source called the South Salt Lake police drug-tip line to report “narcotics activity” at a home. A detective who was watching the home, Douglas Fackrell, was observing visitors when he saw Edward Strieff Jr. exit the house. Fackrell detained Strieff, identified himself, and questioned Strieff before realizing Strieff had an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation. While Fackrell searched Strieff for the arrest, he discovered methamphetamine and a drug pipe.
Strieff challenged his arrest and moved to suppress the evidence found, arguing that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion and that the drugs were derived from an unlawful investigatory stop. The district court denied the motion, allowing the evidence to be used in court, and the Utah Court of Appeals upheld their decision. In 2015, however, the Utah Supreme Court reversed and ordered the evidence suppressed.