Stacey Barchenger reported in today’s Tennessean on the oral arguments held yesterday in State v. Reynolds. The issue raised by the Court of Criminal Appeals was whether Tennessee should adopt the good faith exception. Now the Tennessee Supreme Court has the case. Tennessee has not adopted the good faith exception under the Fourth Amendment.
In Reynolds, the trial court suppressed Ms. Reynolds blood alcohol test. Ms. Reynolds was charged with vehicular homicide. Reynolds’ lawyers filed a motion to suppress her blood tests because her warrantless blood draw. At first, the court denied her motion then granted the motion after medical testimony. In the opinion’s concluding remarks, the court wrote that this case would be a case to determine if the officer’s actions were covered under the good faith exception rule of Fourth Amendment law. Good faith was not raised by either party on direct appeal.
Here is a short definition of what is good faith;
An exception to the exclusionary rule barring the use at trial of evidence obtained pursuant to an unlawful search and seizure. If officers had reasonable, good faith belief that they were acting according to legal authority, such as by relying on a search warrant that is later found to have been legally defective, the illegally seized evidence is admissible.
The good faith exception was adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Leon. Tennessee has not adopted Leon. It appears Tennessee is on the verge of adopting the good faith exception. The Tennessee Constitution has always been interpreted as giving more protections that the U.S. Constitution. It looks like we are going to find out soon if that is still the case.