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Unpublished Paper
An Exclusionary Rule for Police Lies
ExpressO (2009)
  • Melanie D. Wilson, University of Kansas

Although the Supreme Court has often said that truth is an imperative to justice, we now know that police officers, the key investigative component in our criminal justice system, lie. How often do the police lie? No one knows for sure. But credible reports of police lies are common. Because our legal system treats the police as if they were impartial fact gatherers, trained and motivated to gather facts both for and against guilt, rather than biased advocates attempting to disprove innocence, which is the reality, the criminal justice system lacks the appropriate structure to expose police lies that distort the truth about criminal or unconstitutional conduct.

After cataloguing the evidence and effects of the prevalence of police lies, this Article distinguishes between two meaningfully different types of police lies: those that expose the truth; and those that distort it. The Article ultimately urges adoption of an exclusionary rule tailored to reduce those police lies that distort truth. It argues for harsher and more immediate consequences when a judge or jury finds that the balance of evidence suggests that an officer has lied about a defendant’s actions, statements, or culpability, or about the officer’s own conduct. Finally, in cases in which the police “come clean” about lies they tell suspects or potentially unconstitutional conduct they commit when trying to “catch the bad guy,” the proposed rule provides more judicial and citizen oversight for determining whether the ends of justice warranted the police dishonesty, given the facts and circumstances of the individual case.

  • exclusionary rule,
  • police dishonesty
Publication Date
June 7, 2009
Citation Information
Melanie D. Wilson. "An Exclusionary Rule for Police Lies" ExpressO (2009)
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