D.N.J.: Why a suppression hearing is sometimes needed

The hearing here got behind the boilerplate of the police reports and results in the stop being without reasonable suspicion, and it is suppressed. United States v. Wright, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133312 (D.N.J. July 27, 2022):

This case illustrates some basic truisms of criminal procedure. The first is that the exclusionary rule may permit criminal conduct to go unpunished; in suppressing evidence, I am by no means implying innocence in fact—i.e., that Mr. Wright did not have a prior felony conviction or that he did not possess a firearm. The second, related truism is that the law of search and seizure is highly time-dependent; it depends, not only on what the police knew, but precisely when they knew it. Here, once the tussle began, Officer Fayiah reacted properly and proportionately, and an arrest was manifestly appropriate based on the facts as they developed. The trouble is that the tussle occurred after the stop, which was insufficiently supported by reasonable suspicion. The third truism is that evidentiary hearings, whether or not strictly required in a particular case, can be both efficacious and revealing. The prosecution cannot be faulted here; it justifiably relied on the police reports. It took a hearing, however, to probe behind search-and-seizure boilerplate and develop the factual context. Those facts require, for the foregoing reasons, that the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence be granted.

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