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People v. Gonzales involved an issue that continues to divide lawyers, judges, scholars, politicians, as well as the general public: how best to protect individuals from law enforcement conduct that violates constitutional protections? This question is particularly controversial in the context of a criminal case, since the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence often results in the alleged criminal going free. In Gonzales, the California Supreme Court was asked to adopt the exclusionary rule as a remedy for violations of constitutional rights. A majority of California Supreme Court justices answered this in the negative. Justice Carter disagreed, and his analysis provided an initial spark to the modern state constitutional law movement in California, as well as a strong caution against allowing government officials to ignore the law with impunity.


Chapter 2 in “The Great Dissents of the 'Lone Dissenter': Justice Jesse W. Carter's Twenty Tumultuous Years on the California Supreme Court,” Oppenheimer, David & Allan Brotsky, eds. (Carolina Academic Press, 2010). Posted with permission from Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.