Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution commands that the right of individuals to be secure against unreasonable searches shall not be violated. The amendment further provides that a search warrant must be supported by probable cause and particularly describe the place to be searched and items to be seized.' The United States Supreme Court has held that the only effective means of enforcing this mandate is to suppress all evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant that violates the fourth amendment because it lacks either particularity or probable cause. Difficult questions arise, however, when a warrant contains some clauses that are constitutionally sufficient, meeting both the particularity and probable cause requirements, and some clauses that are constitutionally deficient. Should a court suppress all the evidence seized pursuant to the warrant because of the defect, admit all of the evidence because of the constitutional clauses, or apply an intermediate standard-sever the warrant to admit the evidence seized pursuant to constitutional portions while suppressing the evidence attributable to unconstitutional portions? What impact, if any, should proof of the executing officer's good faith reliance on the validity of the warrant have on the court's decision? Should this good faith reliance cure the defects in the warrant, allowing the fact-finder to consider all the evidence, illegally as well as legally obtained? And finally, if the officer's reliance on the partially invalid warrant is determined not to be objectively reasonable, should this finding be grounds for suppression of the evidence seized under the valid portions?