On January 23, 2024 the ACLU of Virginia, the Institute for Justice and ACLU National filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Virginia in support of Ms. Leach-Lewis.
Ms. Leach-Lewis alleges that a Fairfax County zoning officer barged into her private home without consent or a warrant and rifled through the property searching for evidence. She argues that the officer’s actions violate both the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, § 10 of the Virginia Constitution, and that any evidence found in the search should be excluded from use against her in the zoning enforcement action at issue. In contrast, the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County argues that the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule is categorically inapplicable in cases that are "civil" in nature.
We argue that the applicability of the exclusionary rule does not turn on whether a government action is labeled a "civil" proceeding; instead, it should be applied to any proceeding, like this one, where the benefits of deterring Fourth Amendment violations outweighs the costs of suppressing the evidence. The County's position would effectively permit government officials to deliberately violate the Fourth Amendment without consequence in a range of circumstances.
Through this amicus brief, we have asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to find that both the Virginia and the United States Constitutions requires that the exclusionary rule apply to zoning enforcement actions.