WA Supreme Court Invalidates Inevitable Discovery Rule
Winterstein was living at a place, but had registered his address as another place. His parole officer came around, suspicious that he was actually living in the place he was found, searched and found...surprise...meth-making.
Winterstein argued that the warrantless search wasn't warranted, because his address was listed as elsewhere. The State argued that reasonable suspicion that the place was Winterstein's actual residence.
Held: 2 fairly major things.
- The probation officer can search only if he has probable cause that the place is the residence of the parolee;
- The inevitable discovery rule is 86'd in Washington.
Obviously, you will want to know the reasoning as to the second. The first is just one of those policy choices, and in this case, the court decided to follow the ninth circuit. Terry applies only after you have PC that the place is in fact the residence. As to the second:
The independent source doctrine recognizes that probable cause may exist based on legally obtained evidence; the tainted evidence, however, is suppressed. This is consistent with the mandate of White and Boland and does not suggest any balancing of interests as a precondition to the exclusion of unlawfully obtained evidence. As in Bonds, the balancing of interests under the independent source doctrine becomes relevant only after the tainted evidence is disregarded. See Coates, 107 Wn.2d at 889; Gaines, 154 Wn.2d at 720.
In contrast, the inevitable discovery doctrine is necessarily speculative and does not disregard illegally obtained evidence. The State seeks to admit evidence that it claims the police would have discovered notwithstanding the violation of the defendant's constitutional rights. For example, the federal doctrine allows admission of illegally obtained evidence if the State can "establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the information ultimately or inevitably would have been discovered by lawful means." Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, 444, 104 S. Ct. 2501, 81 L. Ed. 2d 377 (1984). There is no requirement of good faith on the part of the police. Id. at 445.
In essence, the greater privacy afforded by the Washington Constitution (explicit versus the implicit in the United States Constitution) means that we should not ever accept illegally obtained evidence.