Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 16 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 690 (1996)

Scalia, J., dissenting

review of a district court's ex post facto approval of a warrantless search—the incentive to obtain a warrant would be eliminated. In United States v. Leon, 468 U. S. 897, 913 (1984), we held that "reliable physical evidence seized by officers reasonably relying on a warrant issued by a detached and neutral magistrate . . . should be admissible in the prosecutor's case in chief." Only a warrant can provide this assurance that the fruits of even a technically improper search will be admissible. Law enforcement officers would still have ample incentive to proceed by warrant.

Finally, I must observe that the Court does not appear to have the courage of its conclusions. In an apparent effort to reduce the unproductive burden today's decision imposes upon appellate courts, or perhaps to salvage some of the trial court's superior familiarity with the facts that it has cast aside, the Court suggests that an appellate court should give "due weight" to a trial court's finding that an officer's inference of wrongdoing (i. e., his assessment of probable cause to search) was reasonable. Ante, at 700. The Court cannot have it both ways. This finding of "reasonableness" is precisely what it has told us the appellate court must review de novo; and in de novo review, the "weight due" to a trial court's finding is zero. In the last analysis, therefore, the Court's opinion seems to me not only wrong but contradictory.

* * *

I would affirm the judgment of the Seventh Circuit on the ground that it correctly applied a deferential standard of review to the District Court's findings of probable cause and reasonable suspicion.


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