Major ruling bans illegal testimony

Court instructs lower courts to disregard testimony obtained illegally.

By DAN IZENBERG
May 5, 2006 04:18
1 minute read.

 
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The Supreme Court on Thursday handed down a landmark ruling allowing courts to disregard evidence in criminal trials based on testimony that was obtained illegally. The court also ruled it was a violation of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom not to inform a suspect of his right to be represented by a lawyer when being interrogated. The ruling applied to an appeal submitted to the court in the case of a soldier who was court-martialed for being in possession of a small quantity of marijuana. The soldier asked the court to disregard his testimony in the marijuana trial because investigators had not advised him of his right to consult a lawyer before questioning him. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1, with Justice Asher Grunis casting the dissenting vote. The Public Defender's Office received permission from the court to serve as a "friend of the court" and present its own opinion on the appeal. According to the Justice Ministry, the court accepted the Public Defender's opinion and adopted it in its ruling. "Any significant and severe injury to the autonomy and freedom of choice of the defendant in giving his testimony during interrogation will lead to its nullification in accordance with Paragraph 12 of the Evidence Order," wrote Justice Dorit Beinish in the ruling. [Paragraph 12 makes the acceptability of a suspect's confession conditional on its being made freely and willingly.] "Whether or not such an injury has been committed will be determined in accordance with the circumstances in each case."

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