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Supreme Court Says Law Enforcement Database Errors Okay

The Supreme Court decision allows police to use false information contained in a police database as the evidence for an arrest. Chief Justice Roberts held that, "when police mistakes are the result of negligence such as that described here, rather than systemic error or reckless disregard of constitutional requirements, any marginal deterrence does not 'pay its way.'" Justice Ginsburg, writing for four of the Justices in dissent, said that "negligent record-keeping errors by law enforcement threaten individual liberty, are susceptible to deterrence by the exclusionary rule, and cannot be remedied effectively through other means." The dissent in the case sited a friend of the court brief that outlined privacy and civil liberty consequences of errors in databases.

Tapped, The American Prospect, January 2009