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Promoting Truth in the Courtroom

NCJ Number
Vanderbilt Law Review Volume: 40 Issue: 2 Dated: (March 1987) Pages: 271-281
E Meese
Date Published
11 pages
The exclusionary rule, Miranda rules governing the admissibility of confessions, and rules limiting adverse inferences from a defendant's silence serve to inhibit the revelation of truth pertinent to just court decisionmaking.
The exclusionary rule renders inadmissible evidence that has been seized illegally, a consideration unrelated to the evidence's probative value or reliability. Similarly, the Miranda rules exclude statements obtained from the defendant when certain procedural rules have been violated, no matter how reliable and material such statements may be. These rules hamper the search for relevant truth in a case, and they are not required by the U.S. Constitution. Police should be trained to follow the rules governing searches and seizures as well as the obtaining of confessions. When these rules are broken, sanctions should be applied outside the forum that will decide defendant culpability in the case at issue. Rules barring rational inferences from a defendant's failure to respond to pretrial questioning or to take the stand at trial are contrary to common sense. If a defendant refuses to explain away an accusation early in a case but suddenly offers a new story at trial, this delay in providing an account raises reasonable doubts about the defendant's credibility. Overall, juries should be trusted to weigh evidence reliability, assess the veracity of confessions, and make reasonable inferences from a defendant's silence before and during the trial. 38 footnotes.


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