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S, Silver Platter Doctrine.

Edited By: Kermit L. Hall, James W. Ely Jr., Joel B. Grossman

From: The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Kermit L. Hall

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Subscriber: null; date: 23 November 2020

Silver Platter Doctrine.

This exception to the *exclusionary rule, valid until 1960, permitted federal courts to accept evidence seized illegally by state officers in searches that involved neither federal participation nor federal direction. First applied to federal trials in *Weeks v. United States (1914), the exclusionary rule prevented the use in trials of evidence seized in an illegal search. This decision did not apply to *state courts, however, many of which continued to follow the *common-law practice of admitting such evidence.

In 1927, the Supreme Court developed the so-called silver platter doctrine in two cases involving enforcement of the *Eighteenth (Prohibition) Amendment, Byars v. United States and Gambino v. United States. State law enforcement officials, often at the secret instigation of federal agents, violated search and seizure procedures and turned evidence from illegal searches over to federal prosecutors, evoking the image of a gift on a silver platter to describe this ploy to evade the federal exclusionary rule.

The extension to state courts of the Fourth Amendment prohibition of illegal searches in *Wolf v. Colorado (1949) cast doubt on the continued viability of the silver platter doctrine. In Elkins v. United States (1960), the Supreme Court finally abandoned it. The doctrine undermined *federalism, the justices concluded. Almost half of the states had by then adopted the exclusionary rule, so admitting illegally seized evidence in federal courts defeated state court efforts to uphold *Fourth Amendment standards. The next year, in *Mapp v. Ohio (1961), the Supreme Court made the exclusionary rule binding on all state courts, thus ending completely the tactics prompted by the silver platter doctrine.

David J. Bodenhamer