Scalia twisted my words!

Via Radley Balko, another update on the tragedy that is Hudson v. Michigan. Justice Antonin Scalia cited a book, Taming the System: The Control of Discretion in American Criminal Justice, by academic Sam Walker to justify his opinion castrating the exclusionary rule. This rule bars evidence from a trial collected when police do not conduct themselves properly; in this case, executing a no-knock search without cause. The citation used by Scalia referred to "increasing professionalism" in law enforcement as a reason to use evidence obtained in violation of rules and standards. Walker is not happy about the citation, as he explains in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times:

First, I learned that Justice Antonin Scalia cited me to support a terrible decision, holding that the exclusionary rule - which for decades prevented evidence obtained illegally by police from being used at trial - no longer applies when cops enter your home without knocking. Even worse, he twisted my main argument to reach a conclusion the exact opposite of what I spelled out in this and other studies. The misuse of evidence is a serious offense - in academia as well as in the courts. When it's your work being manipulated, it is a violation of your intellectual integrity. Since the issue at stake in the Hudson case is extremely important - what role the Supreme Court should play in policing the police - I feel obligated to set the record straight. ... Scalia's opinion suggests that the results I highlighted have sufficiently removed the need for an exclusionary rule to act as a judicial-branch watchdog over the police. I have never said or even suggested such a thing. To the contrary, I have argued that the results reinforce the Supreme Court's continuing importance in defining constitutional protections for individual rights and requiring the appropriate remedies for violations, including the exclusion of evidence.

I argued about this at length a few weeks ago, and supporters of the ruling made a big deal about the "increasing professionalism" argument. But because of the changing roles of law enforcement, talking about "professionalism" misses the point anyway. Again, Balko:

Police are certainly more highly trained than they once were, but they aren't better trained at obseving constitutional protections. They're better trained at paramilitary tactics. They'renow trained by former Navy SEALs and Army Rangers. They're better trained at treating civilians like enemy combatants, not at treating them as citizens wih constitutional rights.

And there's more analysis and evidence of paramilitary police operations at The Agitator.

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Written on Monday, July 17, 2006