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United States v. Payner

Illegal Actions

Regarding the use of supervisory power in this case, the Supreme Court, as stated by Justice Powell, felt that it "upsets the careful balance of interests embodied in the Fourth Amendment decisions of this Court . . . Such an extension of the supervisory power would enable federal courts to exercise a standardless discretion in their application of the exclusionary rule to enforce the Fourth Amendment." Although stating that no court should condone the "briefcase caper," Powell noted that this type of illegal conduct does not command the exclusion of evidence in every case where it was gathered illegally. The illegal actions of law enforcement "must be weighed against the considerable harm that would flow from indiscriminate application of an exclusionary rule." Using the exclusionary rule to enforce proper behavior on the part of law enforcement would impede the functions of the courts. The Court held that the supervisory power does not authorize a federal court to suppress evidence on the ground that it was seized unlawfully from a third party.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980United States v. Payner - Significance, Illegal Actions, Federal Courts