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Search Rule Exception for Michigan Cops Adopted

Criminal Cases Can Now Survive Some 'Mistakes'

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Police in Michigan can now make honest mistakes when searching for evidence without having the resulting criminal case tossed out of court, after the state Supreme Court ruling July 15, 2004.

In a 5-2 decision, the court reinstated gun and drug charges against a 37-year-old man whose home was searched after he was arrested for posing as a fireman to solicit donations shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Police obtained a search warrant and found a firearm and marijuana in Glenn Goldston's home and filed charges. Due to an earlier conviction Goldston was not supposed have a gun.

Chief Justice Maura Corrigan said the exclusionary rule was designed to protect people from police misconduct, a goal not "furthered where police officers act in good-faith reliance on a search warrant." Corrigan's ruling was similar to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1984, which caused many other states to recognize the good-faith exception.

Defense attorneys said the ruling will give police license to violate constitutional rights. "Police should not be able to use a ruse to get into people's homes," said Janet Blanchard, the attorney who argued Goldston's case to the Supreme Court.

Before the Michigan court's ruling, the state's courts had thrown out many cases due to "errors" in police searches, a practice that had been in place in the state since 1919.

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