The ACLU-NJ filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case in which the police unconstitutionally took a DNA sample through a cheek swab and then argued that the DNA did not need to be suppressed because the “inevitable discovery doctrine” applied. While the exclusionary rule typically prohibits the state from using evidence that was unlawfully seized under the Fourth Amendment, the inevitable discovery doctrine allows the evidence to be used if the state can show the evidence would have inevitably been discovered by an independent means. The ACLU-NJ pointed out in its brief that the doctrine requires the state to show the police “would” have performed proper investigatory procedures to inevitably discover the evidence, not simply that they plausibly could have. The ACLU-NJ also argued that evidence of officer misconduct, namely internal affairs complaints regarding racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant comments by the officer, was relevant to the lower court’s consideration of what this officer “would” have done. Finally, the ACLU-NJ clarified that the doctrine does not permit police to claim they would have inevitably acted constitutionally had they not in fact acted unconstitutionally; accepting the state’s argument would undermine the deterrence principle of the exclusionary rule and effectively make meaningless the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that police get a warrant.

Date filed

September 5, 2018


New Jersey Supreme Court