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ILLINOIS v. GATES - 459 U.S. 1028 (1982)

U.S. Supreme Court

ILLINOIS v. GATES , 459 U.S. 1028 (1982)

459 U.S. 1028

ILLINOIS, petitioner,
Lance GATES, et ux
No. 81-430

Supreme Court of the United States

November 29, 1982

On writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Illinois.

This case is restored to the calendar for reargument. In addition to the question presented in the petition for certiorari and previously argued here, the parties are requested to address the question whether the rule requiring the exclusion at a criminal trial of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961); Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, 34 S. Ct. 341 (1914), should to any extent be modified, so as, for example, not to require the exclusion of evidence obtained in the reasonable belief that the search and seizure at issue was consistent with the Fourth Amendment.

Justice STEVENS, with whom Justice BRENNAN and Justice MARSHALL join, dissenting.

Earlier this year the Court decided not to allow the Illinois Attorney General to argue the question it now asks the parties to address. That decision was consistent with the Court's settled practice of not permitting a party to advance a ground for reversal that was not presented below. The reversal today of the Court's earlier decision is not only a flagrant departure from its settled practice, but also raises serious questions concerning the Court's management of its certiorari jurisdiction . I am therefore unable to join the Court's decision to order reargument of this case.


As a matter of ordinary procedure, the burdens of litigation are minimized and the decisional process is expedited if a court is consistent in its rulings as a case progresses. We set a poor example for other judges when we suddenly reverse our prior rulings in the same case.

Page 459 U.S. 1028 , 1029

On February 8, 1982, the State of Illinois filed a motion seeking leave to amend or enlarge the question presented for review in this case. The motion asked the Court to incorporate the following question:

    "Assuming, arguendo, that the information used to obtain the search warrant did not satisfy Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108 [] (1964), should the evidence obtained under the warrant nevertheless be admitted at trial because the police acted in a reasonable good faith belief in the validity of the warrant?"

On March 1, 1982, the Court unanimously denied that motion. On October 13, 1982, the parties presented an hour of argument; they respected our decision and did not attempt to argue the question of good faith. Today, the Court asks the parties to reargue the case in order to address the very question it would not allow the parties to argue last month. This type of inconsistent decisionmaking always imposes unnecessary costs on litigants and is wasteful of the judiciary's most scarce resource-time.


As a matter of appellate practice, it is generally undesirable to permit a party to seek reversal of a lower court's judgment on a ground that the lower court had no opportunity to consider. [Footnote 1] It is especially poor practice to do so when the basis for reversal involves a factual issue on which neither party adduced any evidence. Those considerations apply with added force when the judgment of the highest court of a sovereign state is being reviewed. [Footnote 2] [459 U.S. 1028 , 1030]

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