Balancing Truth Against Human Rights: A Theory of Modern Exclusionary Rules

  • Stephen C. Thaman
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 20)


This final chapter attempts to synthesize the different approaches to exclusion of illegally gathered evidence reflected in the preceding chapters, and to formulate a theory of balancing of truth-finding in the criminal trial against the respect for fundamental human rights. Absolute exclusionary regimes included in constitutions, statutes, or even in decisions of high courts reflect a kind of “pre-balancing” which leaves the trial judge no option but to exclude. Thus would apply to statements or evidence issuing from torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and in some countries, prima facie to constitutional violations affecting the right to counsel or wiretapping. Some jurisdictions, however, allow courts to determine whether a constitutional violation is “grave” and, if not, to then balance the violation against the seriousness of the charge before the court, or other interests. Many jurisdictions will also not exclude evidence even if it was the result of a violation of a fundamental right, if, after a balancing of the circumstances of the case show that the defendant was not deprived of a “fair trial”. The conclusion of the editor, is that courts are too willing to allow fundamental violation of human rights to be “balanced” away in favor of the search for truth, and that such balancing should be limited to situations where the violations are of subconstitutional legal rules. Courts should prima facie exclude evidence if there is a direct link between the evidence and a fundamental violation.


Good Faith Criminal Procedure Fourth Amendment Degrading Treatment Exclusionary Rule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawSaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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