Establishing Inevitability Without Active Pursuit: Defining the Inevitable Discovery Exception to the Fourth Amendment Exclusionary Rule

Few doctrines of constitutional criminal procedure generate as much controversy as the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule. Beyond the basic mandate of the rule – that evidence obtained in violation of an individual’s right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure is inadmissible in a criminal proceeding – little else is agreed upon. The precise date of the exclusionary rule’s inception is uncertain, but it has been applied by the judiciary for over eight decades. While the Supreme Court has emphasized that the rule is a “judicially created remedy,” and not a “personal constitutional right,” this characterization provokes argument as to the doctrine’s susceptibility to statutory or judicial attrition. Indeed, essentially the only element of the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule that generates consensus is that the contours of this fundamental doctrine remain illdefined.