524 U.S. 357 (1998), 97-581, Pennsylvania Bd. of Probation & Parole v. Scott

Docket Nº:Case No. 97-581
Citation:524 U.S. 357, 118 S.Ct. 2014, 141 L.Ed.2d 344, 66 U.S.L.W. 4524
Party Name:PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE v. SCOTT
Case Date:June 22, 1998
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 357

524 U.S. 357 (1998)

118 S.Ct. 2014, 141 L.Ed.2d 344, 66 U.S.L.W. 4524

PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE

v.

SCOTT

Case No. 97-581

United States Supreme Court

June 22, 1998

Argued March 30, 1998

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Syllabus

A condition of respondent's Pennsylvania parole was that he refrain from owning or possessing weapons. Based on evidence that he had violated this and other such conditions, parole officers entered his home and found firearms, a bow, and arrows. At his parole violation hearing, respondent objected to the introduction of this evidence on the ground that the search was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The hearing examiner rejected the challenge and admitted the evidence. As a result, petitioner parole board found sufficient evidence to support the charges and recommitted respondent. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the reversal, holding, inter alia, that although the federal exclusionary rule, which prohibits the introduction at criminal trial of evidence obtained in violation of a defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, does not generally apply in parole revocation hearings, it applied in this case because the officers who conducted the search were aware of respondent's parole status. The court reasoned that, otherwise, illegal searches would be undeterred when officers know that their subjects are parolees and that illegally obtained evidence can be introduced at parole hearings.

Held:

The federal exclusionary rule does not bar the introduction at parole revocation hearings of evidence seized in violation of parolees' Fourth Amendment rights. The State's use of such evidence does not itself violate the Constitution. See, e. g., United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 906. Rather, a violation is "fully accomplished" by the illegal search or seizure, and no exclusion of evidence can cure the invasion of rights the defendant has already suffered. E. g., id., at 906. The exclusionary rule is instead a judicially created means of deterring illegal searches and seizures. United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 348. As such, it does not proscribe the introduction of illegally seized evidence in all proceedings or against all persons, Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 486, but applies only in contexts where its remedial objectives are thought most efficaciously served, e. g., Calandra, supra, at 348. Moreover, because the rule is prudential rather than constitutionally mandated, it applies only where its deterrence benefits outweigh the substantial social costs inherent in precluding consideration of reliable,

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probative evidence. Leon, 468 U.S., at 907. Recognizing these costs, the Court has repeatedly declined to extend the rule to proceedings other than criminal trials. E. g., id., at 909. It again declines to do so here. The social costs of allowing convicted criminals who violate their parole to remain at large are particularly high, see Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 477, 483, and are compounded by the fact that parolees (particularly those who have already committed parole violations) are more likely to commit future crimes than are average citizens, see Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 880. Application of the exclusionary rule, moreover, would be incompatible with the traditionally flexible, nonadversarial, administrative procedures of parole revocation, see Morrissey, supra, at 480, 489, in that it would require extensive litigation to determine whether particular evidence must be excluded, cf., e. g., Calandra, supra, at 349. The rule would provide only minimal deterrence benefits in this context, because its application in criminal trials already provides significant deterrence of unconstitutional searches. Cf. United States v. Janis, 428 U.S. 433, 448, 454. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's special rule for situations in which the searching officer knows his subject is a parolee is rejected because this Court has never suggested that the exclusionary rule must apply in every circumstance in which it might provide marginal deterrence, e. g., Calandra, supra, at 350; because such a piecemeal approach would add an additional layer of collateral litigation regarding the officer's knowledge of the parolee's status; and because, in any event, any additional deterrence would be minimal, whether the person conducting the search was a police officer or a parole officer. Pp. 362-369.

548 Pa. 418, 698 A.2d 32, reversed and remanded.

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 369. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 370.

D. Michael Fisher, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were John G. Knorr III, Chief Deputy Attorney General, and Gregory R. Neuhauser and Calvin R. Koons, Senior Deputy Attorneys General.

Malcolm L. Stewart argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Waxman, Acting Assistant Attorney

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General Keeney, Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben, and Vicki Marani.

Leonard N. Sosnov argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was David Rudovsky. [*]

Justice Thomas delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether the exclusionary rule, which generally prohibits the introduction at criminal trial of evidence obtained in violation of a defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, applies in parole revocation hearings. We hold that it does not.

I

Respondent Keith M. Scott pleaded nolo contendere to a charge of third-degree murder and was sentenced to a prison

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term of 10 to 20 years, beginning on March 31, 1983. On September 1, 1993, just months after completing the minimum sentence, respondent was released on parole. One of the conditions of respondent's parole was that he would refrain from "owning or possessing any firearms or other weapons." App. 5a. The parole agreement, which respondent signed, further provided:

"I expressly consent to the search of my person, property and residence, without a warrant by agents of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. Any items, in [sic] the possession of which constitutes a violation of parole/reparole shall be subject to seizure, and may be used as evidence in the parole revocation process." Id., at 7a.

About five months later, after obtaining an arrest warrant based on evidence that respondent had violated several conditions of his parole by possessing firearms, consuming alcohol, and assaulting a co-worker, three parole officers arrested respondent at a local diner. Before being transferred to a correctional facility, respondent gave the officers the keys to his residence. The officers entered the home, which was owned by his mother, but did not perform a search for parole violations until respondent's mother arrived. The officers neither requested nor obtained consent to perform the search, but respondent's mother did direct them to his bedroom. After finding no relevant evidence there, the officers searched an adjacent sitting room in which they found five firearms, a compound bow, and three arrows.

At his parole violation hearing, respondent objected to the introduction of the evidence obtained during the search of his home on the ground that the search was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The hearing examiner, however, rejected the challenge and admitted the evidence. As a result, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole found sufficient evidence in the record to support the weapons

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and alcohol charges and recommitted respondent to serve 36 months' backtime.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed and remanded, holding, inter alia, that the hearing examiner had erred in admitting the evidence obtained during the search of respondent's residence.[1] The court ruled that the search violated respondent's Fourth Amendment rights because it was conducted without the owner's consent and was not authorized by any state statutory or regulatory framework ensuring the reasonableness of searches by parole officers. 668 A.2d 590, 596 (1995). The court further held that the exclusionary rule should apply because, in the circumstances of respondent's case, the deterrence benefits of the rule outweighed its costs. Id., at 600.[2]

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed. 548 Pa. 418, 698 A.2d 32 (1997). The court stated that respondent's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures was "unaffected" by his signing of the parole agreement giving parole officers permission to conduct warrantless searches. Id., at 427, 698 A. 2d, at 36. It then held that the search in question was unreasonable because it was supported only by "mere speculation" rather than a "reasonable suspicion" of a parole violation. Ibid. Carving out an exception to its per se bar against application of the exclusionary rule in parole revocation hearings, see Commonwealth v. Kates, 452 Pa. 102, 120, 305 A.2d 701, 710 (1973), the court further ruled that the federal exclusionary rule applied to this case because the officers who conducted the

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search were aware of respondent's parole status, 548 Pa., at 428-432, 698 A. 2d, at 37-38. The court reasoned that, in the absence of the rule, illegal searches would be undeterred when officers know that the subjects of their searches are parolees and that illegally obtained evidence can be introduced at parole hearings. Ibid.

We granted certiorari to determine whether the Fourth Amendment exclusionary...

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