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  1. #1
    Terminator's Avatar
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    Supreme Court rules that passengers have the right to challenge police stops of vehicles they're in

    Passengers, like drivers, have a constitutional right to challenge the legality of police decisions to stop cars in which they are traveling, the Supreme Court said Monday.

    Bruce Brendlin was convicted of drug possession after a sheriff's deputy stopped a car in which he was a passenger in Yuba City, Calif., in 2001.

    Brendlin was wanted for a parole violation, although the deputy who ordered the car to pull over didn't know beforehand that Brendlin was in the vehicle.

    Brendlin appealed his conviction, arguing that the drug evidence should be suppressed because it was found as the result of an illegal stop. The state has since conceded there was no basis to stop the car.

    But California also argued that Brendlin's conviction should stand because only the driver was covered by the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    Justice David Souter, writing for a unanimous court, disagreed. "A traffic stop necessarily curtails the travel a passenger has chosen just as much as it halts the driver," Souter said.

    The American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP backed Brendlin, arguing that a ruling in the state's favor would encourage police to conduct arbitrary traffic stops to target passengers, especially minorities, who lack the same rights as drivers.

    Most state and federal courts already permit challenges by passengers. California, Colorado and Washington state do not.

    The case is Brendlin v. California, 06-8120.

  2. #2
    Rhino's Avatar
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    All the more reason I tell them the reason for the stop right off the bat. Thanks for the info, Bradbury!
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton

  3. #3
    countybear's Avatar
    countybear is offline BDRT - Baby Daddy Removal Team
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    The state has since conceded there was no basis to stop the car.
    and that's why they lost...

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
    - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

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  4. #4
    phantasm is offline Corporal
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    I don't disagree with this as it seems there was no PC to stop the vehicle, or it wasn't explained what the PC was, BUT just because the driver or the passenger isnt' informed of the PC, doesn't mean that PC doesn't exist.

  5. #5
    snuffy2202's Avatar
    snuffy2202 is offline JUST ANOTHER TEQUILA SUNRISE
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    +1, Rhino.

  6. #6
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    It's one thing to stop a car without reasonable suspicion, that's a problem. But I don't agree that stopping a car has necessarily curtailed the freedom of movement of the passenger(s). If a passenger asks to leave a traffic stop (on foot), don't they have a right to do so if you have no reason to keep them?
    "I'm not a coward,
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass"
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  7. #7
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackalope View Post
    It's one thing to stop a car without reasonable suspicion, that's a problem. But I don't agree that stopping a car has necessarily curtailed the freedom of movement of the passenger(s). If a passenger asks to leave a traffic stop (on foot), don't they have a right to do so if you have no reason to keep them?
    We've got rulings that support restricting or controlling passengers; it's kind of unclear (as far as I know; I haven't read the latest case yet) whether that includes detaining them without some valid explanation. After all, depending on who you're dealing with, if you let a passenger leave -- you just might find that they've got buddies coming to the scene! At the same time, if you've got no particularized suspicion that would support detaining them -- shouldn't they be free to leave, if they so desire? (And that's before you get into something like being on a highway where pedestrians are prohibited!)

    The handful of times I had a passenger want to leave, I generally let them unless there was a reason to hold them, as well.

  8. #8
    phantasm is offline Corporal
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    Only time I've had passengers want to leave, and I actually encouraged it, is when I've stopped a cab.

  9. #9
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    I've read the case now.

    To me -- it was a screwed up case from the git-go. It amounts to the cops stopping the car with flimsy soggy-tissue paper thin grounds. (They saw dead tags, ran the tags, they came back as having the renewal in process, they saw the temp sticker/tag thing, and stopped the car anyway...) It sounds an awful lot like they were just stopping car at near-random in hopes of finding something... Now, maybe they were doing good profiling, and just lousy articulation; I don't know.

    But then -- in almost any other jurisdiction, it's been clear for some time that, unless you change it somehow, the passengers are as detained as the driver, and can object to an arrest that was solely the result of the bad initial stop. All the Court really did was make it crystal clear that the question of detention is whether a reasonable person would feel that they could leave, not whether the cop intended to detain that person.

    So... What do I take from this case? The main thing is to have a good freakin' stop in the first place! If they'd had a good stop in the first place, the whole matter would have been moot!

 

 

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