The Supreme Court said today it will consider relaxing significantly the so-called "exclusionary rule" that bars from criminal trials any evidence police seized unlawfully.
The court said it will use a case from Chicago to decide whether statements made by a criminal defendant after an unlawful arrest may be used by prosecutors to contradict a defense witness' trial testimony.
The court previously has allowed prosecutors to use unlawfully seized evidence to contradict a defendant's own trial testimony. But the justices never before have allowed the use of such evidence to rebut other witnesses' testimony.
The Illinois Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, allowed such evidence to be introduced at the trial of Darryl James, sentenced to 30 years in prison for a 1982 murder.
Prosecutors said James shot and killed Geliria Boyd and wounded another youth in a late-night confrontation on a south Chicago street.
The trial judge previously had ruled that James' arrest was unlawful because police at the time did not have a court warrant or probable cause to suspect him of committing a crime.
But the arresting detective was allowed to testify to rebut a defense witness' testimony.