Landmark Supreme Court Judgment On Evidence

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment in the case of DPP v JC [2015] IESC 31 where it articulated a new exclusionary rule concerning unconstitutionally obtained evidence. Prior to this decision, the old long-standing exclusionary rule from the case of DPP v Kenny [1990] 2 1R 110 provided that unconstitutionally obtained evidence must be excluded, regardless of the degree of care exercised or the state of knowledge of those involved, unless there were "extraordinary excusing circumstances".

The case of DPP v JC related to the criminal trial of Mr JC and the trial judge's decision to exclude incriminating statements made by the accused as they had been unconstitutionally obtained. The circumstances of unconstitutionality in that case were that while the particular form of warrant used was valid at the time of its execution, a subsequent legal decision declared the section under which it had been obtained unconstitutional. The incriminating statements were thus, technically, unconstitutionally obtained evidence and, under the law as it then stood, had to be excluded from the trial. In excluding the tainted evidence, the trial judge was correctly applying the existing exclusionary rule from DPP v Kenny.

The State appealed the case to the Supreme Court where it sought a reconsideration of the exclusionary rule.

A sharply divided Supreme Court, by a majority of four to three, observed that the old exclusionary rule effectively operated as an automatic absolute bar on the admissibility of unconstitutionally obtained evidence, save for the most extreme circumstances. This, they thought, went too far and did not strike a proper balance between the entitlement of society to have on the one hand those guilty of crime...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT