Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Court decides passengers can challenge stops.

TCC - The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that passengers in vehicles may challenge the legality of a traffic stop when the stop results in an arrest.

The Washington Post reports that the unanimous decision by the court came in the case of a California man, Bruce Brendlin, who had been charged with drug possession after police stopped the car in which he was riding. Drug paraphernalia were found in the car. Brendlin took his case to court, charging that the items were found in an unreasonable search and seizure, a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The Court's ruling affirmed Brendlin's standing and said that passengers, like drivers, are seized in a traffic stop and thus can claim Fourth Amendment protection. Brendlin had been denied by the California Supreme Court, which ruled that passengers are not seized by the police but could be implicated by searches.

Various groups, including the ACLU, had concurred with the opinion, although courts in Colorado and Washington had sided with the California Supreme Court.

As a result of the ruling, the case has been sent back to the California courts so legal action can proceed.

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