Safeguarding Fourth Amendment protections is critical to preserving individual privacy rights and fostering positive perceptions of police legitimacy within communities. Maintaining an effective accountability structure for police stops, searches, and seizures is a necessary step toward achieving these objectives. In this article, we use qualitative interviews and survey data with defense attorneys to explore—from a court community perspective— their use of discretion to uphold the Exclusionary Rule through bringing suppression motions. Data demonstrate that power dynamics within the court community lead defense attorneys to conclude that litigating rights violations is often a futile effort that interferes with favorable case outcomes and important professional relationships. As a result, they sometimes opt to refrain from filing suppression motions in exchange for favorable plea offers and career aspirations. While understandable, these decisions frustrate the ability of the judicial system to hold the police accountable for Fourth Amendment violations.
Esther Nir and Siyu Liu,
Defending Constitutional Rights in Imbalanced Courtrooms,
J. Crim. L. & Criminology