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Maryland v. Garrison

Significance

The ruling provided another good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The use of an overly broad warrant did not justify the exclusion of evidence from trial because the officers made a reasonable effort to identify the place intended for search.

On 21 May 1982 Baltimore police officers obtained a warrant to search Lawrence McWebb and a 2036 Park Avenue third floor apartment. Although there were actually two apartments, the police believed that only one apartment existed on the third floor of that building. They concluded this through listening to an informant, examining the exterior of the building, and questioning the utility company. Six police officers executed the warrant. They encountered McWebb in front of the building and used his key to get into the building and onto the third floor. As they entered the vestibule on the third floor, the officers encountered Garrison, clad in pajamas and wearing a half body cast. The doors to both apartments were open and police could see inside both areas. The officers entered Garrison's apartment, still thinking that only one apartment stood on that floor, and found heroin, cash, and drug paraphernalia. At that point, the officers realized that two apartments existed and they were in Garrison's. They discontinued the search.

Garrison was convicted of possession of a controlled substance. Although Garrison made a motion to suppress the evidence and make it inadmissible in court, the trial court denied this motion. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals agreed with this, indicating that the warrant was intended to authorize a search of the entire third floor of the building. The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed that decision because it felt that the warrant authorized the search of McWebb's apartment only, and not the entire third floor. The court of appeals concluded that the police should not have entered Garrison's apartment without a warrant.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Maryland v. Garrison - Significance, Latitude For Honest Mistakes Made By Officers, Evidence Against The Victim Of Police Error Should Not Be Used