Attenuation Case Study

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In December 2006, local law enforcement received an anonymous phone call on a drug tip line regarding suspicious activity at a home in Salt Lake City. As a result, police officer David Fackrell surveilled the residence for approximately one week, witnessing several noticeably short visits conducive to drug activity. Officer Fackrell observed respondent Edward Strieff exit the home, followed him to a local convenience store, and stopped the man without articulable reasonable suspicion, a requirement of the Fourth Amendment. During this unlawful investigatory stop, Officer Fackrell requested that Strieff provide identification. Upon Strieff’s compliance, Officer Fackrell ran a warrants check and discovered that Strieff had an outstanding warrant…show more content…
Primarily, the attenuation doctrine serves to determine whether or not the unlawful actions directly caused the discovery of evidence. The Court ruled regarding each of the three factors of attenuation; it first decided that the issue of temporal proximity rests firmly in favor of suppression. In favor of the State, however, the Court held that the discovery of the warrant was indeed an intervening circumstance, attenuating the evidence on the grounds that the warrant was independent from the stop. The Court applied the Segura ruling, which held that the exclusionary rule does not apply “if the connection between the illegal police conduct and the discovery and seizure of the evidence is so attenuated as to dissipate the taint” (Burger) (Segura v. U.S. ). The Court contended that because the warrant was valid, existed before the stop, and was unconnected with the stop, it sufficiently attenuated the seizure of the evidence from the unlawful stop as an independent and intervening circumstance. Finally, the Court held that the misconduct of Officer Fackrell was “at most negligent” and did not constitute flagrancy as required by the Brown factors of attenuation. On these grounds, the United States Supreme Court held that the evidence was indeed admissible because “the discovery of the arrest warrant attenuated the connection between the unlawful stop and the evidence seized from Strieff incident to arrest” (Thomas, Utah v. Strieff: Opinion of the
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