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The Law and Economics of the Exclusionary Rule

86 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2011 Last revised: 3 Jan 2012

Date Written: March 11, 2011


The exclusionary rule is premised on behavioral assumptions about how the law shapes police conduct. Using a law and economics approach, this Article draws out the implications of these assumptions. It shows: first, that in attempting to deter police violations, the rule actually encourages police harassment of ordinary citizens, particularly minorities; and second, when applied at trial, the rule decreases the benefit of the doubt that defendants who are most likely to be actually innocent can receive. Judicial attempts to mitigate these costs of the exclusionary rule in fact exacerbate them. The manifold jurisprudential rules that make up this area of law can be assessed in terms of the extent each effectively differentiates between the guilty and the innocent. Assessed in this way, it becomes clear that much of the secondary jurisprudence in search and seizure law further aggravates the problem.

Suggested Citation

Jacobi, Tonja, The Law and Economics of the Exclusionary Rule (March 11, 2011). Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 87, No. 2, 2011. Available at SSRN: or

Tonja Jacobi (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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