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Nix v. Williams

Significance, Supreme Court Approves Inevitable Discovery Exception, Dissenters Feel Exclusionary Rule Is Undermined, Exclusionary Rule Offends Law And Order Supporters

Petitioner

Crispus Nix

Respondent

Robert Anthony Williams

Petitioner's Claim

That evidence pertaining to the discovery of a body was properly admitted because it would have ultimately been discovered, even if the defendant's right to counsel had not been violated. Also that the state need not prove the absence of bad faith in securing the evidence.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Brent R. Appel

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Robert Bartels

Justices for the Court

Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), Harry A. Blackmun, Sandra Day O'Connor, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall

Place

Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

11 June 1984

Decision

Reversed the court of appeals and held that unlawfully obtained evidence is admissible if it would inevitably have been discovered lawfully. Also held that to establish the admissibility of such evidence, the prosecution does not have to prove the absence of bad faith.

Related Cases

  • Spano v. New York, 360 U.S. 315 (1959).
  • Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963).
  • Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18 (1967).
  • United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218 (1967).
  • Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387 (1977).

Further Readings

  • Irons, Peter. Brennan vs. Rehnquist: The Battle for the Constitution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.
  • Schwartz, Herman, ed. The Burger Years: Rights and Wrongs in the Supreme Court, 1969-1986. New York: Viking, 1987.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988