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Justices Skeptical of Traffic Stop

Posted Apr 24, 2007 8:42 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court considered the rights of passengers in cars during oral arguments yesterday.

The New York Times reports that a majority of the justices reacted with skepticism to arguments that a passenger would feel free to leave during a traffic stop. The California Supreme Court had ruled in the case that a passenger could not challenge the search because he would conclude he was free to leave, meaning he was not “seized” for Fourth Amendment purposes.

The passenger was an ex-convict who pleaded guilty to a narcotics charge after a police officer stopped the car, supposedly to check its registration, and found drug supplies. The officer had already checked the registration status, however, and knew there was no problem.


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