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Is the Erosion of Civil Rights Inevitable?

It would appear so in light of a ruling in federal court that permits evidence found in a Constitutionally prohibited police search to be used in a felony prosecution. US District Judge Matthew Kenally’s decision to let stand a cellphone found along with counterfeit cash at the home of a DuPage County man demonstrates that cops can act within their rights in conducting warrantless searches. Terry Ferguson faces charges related to the sale of guns and drugs from a food truck to undercover agents and sought to suppress evidence found in a three-hour search of his Willowbrook residence in 2018.

Drawing on a US Supreme Court decision from 2016, Kennelly ruled the cellphone Ferguson’s wife produced from a bedroom can be used at trial. This despite contradictory testimony from among 20 police and federal agents in attendance, captured on video by cameras in the Ferguson home, that Ferguson’s wife agreed to the search. Because cops possessed a warrant both for Ferguson’s arrest and for the phone, Kennelly said that the doctrine of inevitable discovery allowed the device and its contents to be taken into evidence, despite the violation of Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure protections. 

While federal prosecutors say they won’t use items found in locked in a truck outside the Ferguson home as evidence of the man’s illegal activities and the judge rejected contentions by cops that the raid was permitted under law. Kennelly’s ruling underscores the leeway granted federal agents in pursuit of evidence used in criminal prosecutions. The DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Chicagoland Law Firm know the challenges presented by conflicts between legal codes and police practices. We help clients in courts around the state navigate the criminal justice system with the goal of achieving the best outcomes possible for the facts in their cases. If you have been charged with a crime in federal or state court, contact our offices today for a free consultation. We are your best defense.