This article aims to improve the quality of evidence gathering and interpretation at one crucial phase of investigations: the evaluation of search warrant applications. Part II of this article provides background on the search warrant application process, including how courts evaluate such applications based on informants’ tips and how defendants can subsequently challenge those decisions. Part III then discusses the ways in which cognitive biases can affect each stage of the search warrant process. Part IV provides my suggested solutions to the problems identified, all of which fall under the general umbrella of full disclosure. That part argues that education about cognitive biases will play a key role in addressing the problems identified in the article. It also argues that police should use a checklist to help ensure that they provide magistrates with the necessary information to review the search warrant application, and it suggests doctrinal reforms to incentivize use of this checklist. These reforms are aimed at helping police and magistrates make better decisions when search warrants are applied for and reviewed. They should also help make the system more transparent, which in turn will create greater roles for defense counsel in individual cases and help scholars or others looking at systemic issues. Part V concludes the article by briefly summarizing the issue and recommending more empirical research to verify some of the conclusions drawn throughout this article.
Bowman, Mary Nicol
"Full Disclosure: Cognitive Science, Informants, and Search Warrant Scrutiny,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 47
, Article 4.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol47/iss2/4