Happy Birthday Exclusionary Rule! Mapp v. Ohio Turns 59

Mapp v. Ohio,  367 U.S. 643 (1961), cited in every motion to suppress evidence, was decided 59 years ago today. While today defense attorneys and prosecutors argue whether or not evidence should be excluded pursuant to the exclusionary rule, prior to Mapp there was no exclusionary rule in state courts for evidence seized from a person in violation of Fourth Amendment Rights.

In Mapp, police entered Dollree Mapp’s home without her permission and without a warrant. Police believed a bombing suspect was hiding in her home. Police did not find the suspect they were looking for but they did find sexually explicit books and photos. Mapp was convicted and sentenced to prison for violating a state law that prohibited lewd and obscene materials. Mapp appealed her conviction on First Amendment grounds, arguing she had a right to possess the materials. By the time the case reached the United States Supreme Court, the justices were focused on the evidence seizure without a warrant. Evidence obtained without a warrant or other valid means must be excluded from evidence against a suspect – thus, the exclusionary rule is born (actually, it had already been applied in federal courts and the decision in Mapp made it applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment).

Today, most people know that the police cannot use evidence obtained without a warrant or other valid means, but few people realize it all started with a Cleveland woman and some pornographic photos.

Listen to the Oral Arguments here: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1960/236

Read the Decision here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/367/643