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Name: People v. Henry
Case #: A125270
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 05/25/2010
Subsequent History: rev. granted 8/11/10 (S183964)

Even if the search of appellant’s car could not be justified as a search incident to arrest under Arizona v. Gant (2009) 129 S.Ct. 1710, the evidence is still admissible under the good faith exception. Appellant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress which the trial court had found to be a valid car search under the search incident to arrest exception. He argued that the search exceeded the permissible scope of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Arizona v. Gant, supra. Respondent conceded that Gant should be retroactively applied to this case, but argued that the search was nevertheless valid under Gant, or alternatively, that the good-faith exception saved the search. The Court of Appeal agreed with the latter contention. The police in this case reasonably relied on more than a quarter of a century of case law interpreting New York v. Belton (1981) 453 U.S. 454, to permit the search. Applying Gant would in no way deter future police misconduct, and that is the primary purpose of the exclusionary rule. The court relied on Illinois v. Krull (1987) 480 U.S. 340 for the proposition that application of the good-faith exception is compatible with rules of retroactivity. In Krull, the High Court applied the exception when police relied on a statute later deemed unconstitutional. There is no discernable difference between applying the exception in that situation and the situation where police rely on prior decisional law that is later changed. So, the court affirmed the denial of the suppression motion. In dicta, the appellate court noted that, contrary to the trial court’s ruling, the seized evidence would not have been admissible as an inventory or impound search because no evidence was presented at the hearing that the impound complied with standardized department policies.