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Court Case Studies 1

Court Case Studies


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Court Case Studies
Case One
In the first case a young man robbed a woman in a womens restroom at the Washington
National Monument. The female victim was able to get a good look at the offender and describe
them to police. Police later illegally arrest a suspect named Crain and provide the victim with a
photographic display including a picture of the suspect. The victim identifies Crain as the armed
robber and he is found guilty of the crime of armed robbery. He appealed the conviction arguing
that the in-court-identification was the fruit of the poisonous tree and should not be used as
evidence (Rodriquez, 2011).
When police make illegal arrests they risk any evidence they collect being excluded from
the court process. According to the Exclusionary rule evidence that is collected illegally will not
be permitted in a court of law even if this evidence can point directly to the guilt of the suspect.
In this case Crain was illegally arrested so the photographic evidence shown to the victim would
be excluded. If police had not arrested the suspect illegally his evidence and any evidence
collected due to the illegal arrest will be excluded from a court of law. This is known as the
fruit of a poisonous tree doctrine. What this means is basically illegal evidence becomes
tainted like a rotten apple and this rotten apple (illegal evidence) taints the rest of the apple
(evidence).
The Exclusionary Rule developed out of several ruling by the Supreme Court beginning
with Week vs. United States where the court determined that evidence seized illegally, such as
the photograph of the defendant, if was subject to exclusion (Clancy, 2010). The goal was to
punish the bead behavior of police and create a remedy for criminal suspects subject to the bad
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behavior of law enforcement. Only the victim suffers when police grab evidence illegally is the
victim. The police are rarely punished for their bad actions and the suspect get evidence that
could prove their guilt excluded from the court process. When evidence is excluded the guilty
goes free and the victim never receives justice. The in-court identification would be excluded
based on the way the evidence was collected.
When evidence is collected illegally, any evidence collected from the illegal evidence is
also excluded. The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine evidence is also excluded from trial if it
was gained through evidence uncovered in an illegal arrest, unreasonable search, or coercive
interrogation (Rodriquez, 2011). When evidence results in additional evidence being located
against the criminal suspect this evidence will also be excluded from the court process. Any
evidence collected illegally will be excluded from the court process. Police have a legal
obligation to uphold the due process rights of the criminal suspect in order to protect the
evidence to ensure the victim gets justice.
Case Two
In the second case Watson was illegally arrested by police. When police went to ask a
neighbor to watch the suspects cat and dog they obtain evidence against the suspect on another
crime. The neighbor gave police evidence on another crime involving a bank robbery. The
neighbor claimed Watson had asked her to spell nitroglycerin and the robbery involved a note
being handed to the teller saying they had nitroglycerin. Watson was later found to be guilty of
the bank robbery. In this scenario the evidence may be suppressed based on the fruit of the
poisonous tree doctrine.
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In this case police illegally arrested Watson on another crime. Any evidence collected
due to this illegal arrest would be excluded. The problem is the evidence given to police was for
a totally different crime no related to the crime police arrested Watson for so they fruit of the
poisonous tree may not apply. The determination of suppression would fall into the hands of the
judge. If the judge determines the arrest was illegal he/she would excluded any evidence
collected on the crime they were arrested for. The evidence police obtained though the interview
of the neighbor would automatically be excluded because police should never have been talking
to the neighbor.
On the other hand police were not questioning the neighbor about the crime the criminal
suspect was arrested for and did not seek out the evidence about the note. The information was
instead provided by the neighbor without any solicitation by the police. In this case any evidence
collected on the original arrests should be excluded but evidence located after the illegal arrest
on the second crime should not be excluded and would not be considered fruit of the poisonous
tree. Under this doctrine, not only must illegally obtained evidence be excluded, but also all
evidence obtained or derived from exploitation of that evidence (Rodriquez, 2011). The new
evidence was for a totally new crime and the witness was not acting on the behalf of the police
when she relayed the important information.
Case Three
In case three a criminal suspect is placed in a jail sail with a police informant. The
informant heard the criminal suspects make statements admitting to his role in a robbery and a
murder. The informant can appear as a witness for the state and give testimony on the
information he overheard. The police informant did not illicit any information from the suspect
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but instead it was given willingly. This makes the evidence overheard by the police informant
admissible in a court of law. If a police officer was to illicit a response from unwitting prison
inmate then the evidence they elicited would not be admissible because the inmate would not
have been aware they could insert their constitutional right to an attorney (Merritt, 2012). If the
inmate gives the information freely then it is not constitutionally protected.
When there is a prior arrangement for an informant to be in a position to overhear a
confession from the inmate the information should be admissible only if it was given willingly
and if the inmates and the police informant do not have any personal relationship, such as being
bunk mates. When the police informant is roommates with the inmate the lines become blurred
to what information was elicited and what information was freely given.
When the information is deliberately elicited from the inmate then it should not be
admissible. When a police informant is asking on the behalf of police they are considered a
police agent. When any agent of the police questions a suspect the information ahs the same
constitutional protection as if they information was elicited by the police. When an informant is
not acting on behalf of the police then the evidence will get a different response in the court of
law.
Case Four
In this case police entered a boarding home where they were let in by an unknown
woman. The police then proceeded to the defendants bedroom where they entered and
immediately began to question the petitioner. When the criminal suspect was being questioned
he could not leave and was instead under arrest. When police question any suspect about crimes
and the suspect being questioned is under the control of police, such as being under arrest or
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being questioned in an interrogation room, they have a legal obligation to read the suspect their
Miranda Rights.
The Miranda warning involves informing the criminal defendant of their right to have an
attorney present during any questioning and to have an attorney present. When police fail to give
a criminal defendant their Miranda Warning any confessions made by the suspect will be
excluded as well as any evidence that is obtained. This includes the gun. Even if the police had
given the Miranda Warning to the suspect they illegally entered his home and seized the gun
evidence.
Even though the police were let into the boardinghouse by someone else they did not get
permission to enter the bedroom of the suspect. The bedroom in the boardinghouse would be
considered Defendant Ortez private residents. In order to intrude upon the private resident of the
defendant police need a warrant or exigent circumstances. In this case the defendant was a sleep
in his bed and posed no immediate danger. Police had time to get a warrant to constitutionally
protect the evidence they obtained and had a legal obligation to read the defendant his Miranda
Warning instead of illegally questioning the suspect.
When police fail to follow the law they risk the evidence being tainted and excluded from
the court process. When police questioned Ortez about the gun without warning him of his right
to remain silent they obtained evidence illegally. Police are responsible for collecting evidence
but only first applying the law and protecting the rights of the criminal defendant. When police
fail to follow the law and uphold defendants rights the victims suffer when evidence is excluded
and guilty offenders go free. Any evidence police obtain from the illegal questioning can result
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in the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine being initiated and this evidence also being excluded
from the court case.
















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References
Clancy, T. (2010). The Fourth Amendments Exclusionary Rule as a Constitutional Right. Ohio
State Journal of Criminal law, 10(1): 358-360
Fauver, D. (2003). "Evidence Not Suppressed Despite Failure to Give Miranda Warning." Daily
Record
Merit, M. (2012). Jailhouse informants and the sixth amendment: is the U.S. Supreme Court
adequately protecting an accusers right to counsel? Retrieved July 29, 2014 from
http://www.bc.edu/dam/files/schools/law/lawreviews/journals/bclawr/44_4/15_FMS.htm
Rodriquez, S. (2011). Fruit of Poisonous Tree Doctrine. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from
http://www.lacriminaldefenseattorney.com/Legal-Dictionary/F/FIRS-FZ/Fruit-of-Poisonous