Elkins v. United States 364 U.S. 206 (1960)

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ELKINS v. UNITED STATES 364 U.S. 206 (1960)

In Elkins the Supreme Court overthrew the silver platter doctrine, an exception to the exclusionary rule allowing use in federal prosecutions of evidence seized by state officers in illegal searches. Two changes had undermined the authority of the doctrine since it was formulated in weeks v. united states (1914). First, the extension of the constitutional prohibition of unreasonable searches to the states in wolf v. colorado (1949) meant that the doctrine now permitted federal courts to admit evidence unconstitutionally seized. Second, the doctrine vitiated the policies of about half the states, which had in the meantime independently adopted an exclusionary rule.

The Elkins opinion, in addition, contains the most thorough and convincing analysis in favor of the exclusionary rule to be found in any opinion of the Court; it thus laid the groundwork for imposition of the rule on the states the following year in mapp v. ohio (1961).

Jacob W. Landynski