WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the criminal conviction of an Alabama man even though the justices agreed the police search that produced incriminating evidence was illegal.
The high court’s 7-2 ruling Thursday against Willie Gene Davis highlighted an unusual series of events. Between Davis’ arrest and a federal appeals court ruling affirming his conviction, the Supreme Court put new limits on the ability of police to search a vehicle immediately after a suspect is arrested.
The question for the justices was whether to invoke the exclusionary rule that generally requires evidence to be suppressed if it results from a violation of a suspect’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. In this case, the court said, the good-faith efforts of the officers overrode that concern.