The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider whether evidence must be suppressed when authorities base an arrest on incorrect information from police files.
The Coffee County, Ala., sheriff's department took Bennie Dean Herring into custody after being told by another county he was wanted for failing to appear in court on a felony charge.
In a subsequent search, the sheriff's department found methamphetamine in Herring's pockets and an unloaded gun under the front seat of his truck.
It turned out that the warrant for Herring's arrest had been recalled five months earlier.
Herring was sentenced to 27 months in prison after a jury convicted him on federal drug and gun charges.
Courts have ruled that as a deterrent to police misconduct, the fruits of an unlawful search and seizure may be excluded from evidence.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said that suppressing evidence in Herring's case would be unlikely to deter sloppy record keeping.
The cost of suppressing the evidence, the appeals court said, would fall on the county that arrested Herring, not on the county that was negligent in its record keeping.