Search and Seizure: Supreme Court Takes Up Rights of Vehicle Passengers

When police pull over the driver of a vehicle, are they also "seizing" the vehicle's passengers? That's the question the US Supreme Court pondered Monday as it heard oral arguments (transcript here) in the case of a California man arrested on methamphetamine charges after the vehicle in which he was riding was pulled over. Questions from the justices suggested they would not feel free to leave if they were passengers in a vehicle pulled over by police, and if that sentiment holds, the court could rule that passengers have the right to make Fourth Amendment challenges to any evidence seized and used against them.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/supremecourt1.jpg
US Supreme Court
The case pits the state of California against Bruce Brendlin, a former convict wanted for parole violation. Brendlin was a passenger in a car pulled over ostensibly to inspect possibly expired inspection tags. The officer recognized Brendlin, arrested him, searched the car, found methamphetamine supplies, and added a drug offense to the charges.

Brendlin eventually pleaded guilty, but appealed on the ground that the evidence should have been suppressed because the traffic stop was later found to be bogus. (The officer already knew the tags were good because he had stopped the car earlier that same day). The California Supreme Court rejected Brendlin's appeal, holding that only the driver had been "seized" during the traffic stop -- not Brendlin -- and thus Brendlin had no basis for challenging an illegal search.

Brendlin's attorney, Elizabeth Campbell, told the court that when a police officer pulls over a vehicle, "he seizes not only the driver of the car but also the car and every person and everything in that car."

California Deputy Attorney General Clifford Zall argued that it is only the driver, not the passenger, who is "seized" because it is the driver who submits to the officer's authority. That caused some skepticism among the justices, a majority of whom indicated through their comments that they believe passengers as well as the driver are "seized." That is also the position of the courts in most states.

While Brendlin appears likely to prevail on this issue, he is still likely to be imprisoned as a parole violator. Still, what would likely be a symbolic victory for Brendlin could become a substantive victory for the rest of us.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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RIGHTS OF PASSENGERS

HOW ABOUT RIGHTS OF THE GUESTS IN A HOUSE. WHEN CLEARLY A HOUSE DOES NOT BELONG TO EVERYONE THAT IS IN THE HOUSE, HOW CAN THEY RAID AND ARREST EVERYONE AT THAT HOUSE? IF THIS IS TRUE THAT ALL PASSENGERS OF A CAR BEING PULLED OVER MAY HAVE 4TH AMENDMENT RIGHTS; I DON'T SEE WHY GUESTS (OR OTHER RESIDENTS IN THE HOUSE) WHO ARE NOT ON A SEARCH WARRANT CANNOT ALSO USE THE 4TH AMENDMENTS RIGHTS. IF THEY DO HAVE THESE RIGHTS, AND THESE RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED, PLEASE TELL US HOW TO BRING CASES LIKE THIS BACK TO COURT OR HOW TO FILE A HABEAS CORPUS AT LOW COST.

MIJconscious control and

MIJconscious control and dominion

House rights

I have a story from personal experience about the 'house' issue. Years ago, I attended a party where the people throwing the party actually rented the house. The police broke up the party and kicked everyone out of the house. We were searched without being asked when we exited the house and told by the police officers (after the search) that they watched us in the backyard engage in illegal activity. The police found nothing on us and had to let us go. We countered the police accusation with the question of 'why didn't you stop us 'in the act' if you claim you saw us participating in illegal activity'? They dodged the question. The police officer then said something interesting that I did not know about. They said that the area that we were in was part of the 'abatement program' ( I guess you all can google it). They explained to me that the owner of the house agreed to be part of the neighborhood abatement program, which means he consents to the police that his property can be surveilled and searched at anytime by the police. So basically, my rights were out the window. Luckily I flexed them anyway by repeating over and over "officer, why are you searching me" as they started searching me as soon as I left the house. Had I not said that, I wouldn't have learned about the abatement procedure. Had he not told me than, I would have taken him to court.

the right to search under

the right to search under the abatement program should not be upheld when the owner rents the house out. For example a hotel manager cannot give concent for an occupied room to be searched. This 'abatement program' as discribed is unconstitutional as the land lords right to concent for a search is not valid when the property is rented.

ANAL RECOURSE IN RURAL PENNSYLVANIA

Where I reside, rural PA, our law enforcement and authorities utilize 'snitches' to snare low level street distributors. Arrestss are made specifically by these means. The so called enforcement officers never get in the mix. I personally feel this is an anal approach aimed at making cops 'look' as if their doing a good 'job' keeping this ass backward christian commuity free of 'drugs'...it's a joke and many persons are incarcerated in county jail with outrageous bond while they push the maximum time untill they are brought to court for charges...

search&seizure

The sad fact is that most any protection offered by the 4th Am. has been completely undermined. With 5 K-9 units in our little rural county, the only right we still have is the right to remain silent( if that ). I am nauseated each time I am told that soldiers are fighting to preserve my "rights". Are those soldiers aware whatever rights they thought they were fighting for no longer exist, in any practical way?

The Fight For "Freedom"

We're aware. And we're pissed.

You would be surprised if you saw the number of military personnel admitted with drug waivers. A huge percentage (Above 50%) of the military are former (and sometimes current) drug users. And this only accounts for those who had a drug related offense on their record, thus forcing them to admit prior drug "experimentation" in order to obtain a waiver. If there is no record of a drug offense, military recruiters instruct prospective applicants to deny prior drug use in order to minimize paperwork.

I've talked with many officers and staff NCOs who believe drugs should be legalized and regulated. And of course a vast majority of the junior enlisted ranks believe the same thing. Based on countless conversations I've held with other service members during my time, I would say 70-80% of those support legalization.

Of course all of this off the record and unofficial. Any official statement from military spokesmen would deny the validity of my claims and state that the military in whole does not support or share my views. But then again, I hear it's lonely at the top.

Guilt by association

That's what they use to detain or arrest anyone who is in a car or house besides the owner/operator/tenant.

Just like you'd face murder charges if you participated in a robbery that resulted in a death. If you are with the person committing the offense, in the eyes of the law, you are also guilty because you are participating in the illegal activity. And that included being a passenger in a car that has a burned-out headlight.

It's time for lawmakers to realize that just because you are in the presence of someone committing a crime that does not mean that you are involved in the crime (who's responsibility is it that a vehicle is being operated with a burned-out headlight or that the operator is exceeding the speed limit? The driver's or the passenger's?)

land of bullshit

Okay lets be clear anytime you can consume a beverage that can kill you if drink to much of it, but you cant smoke something because they say it has no medical use, more like they cant control it. the land of the free thats bullshit free to shut the fuck and go to jail for bullshit

cant wait for anarchy

my best friend is in jail right now waiting for trial. he has been locked up and waiting for trial since last november.

a few years ago, he took a car that had the keys in it. joyriding, right? well, since he isnt "well off", he had to take a court appointed lawyer (might as well took a trained monkey in with him). he ended up getting convicted of grand theft auto. even tho he was only 17 when he committed the crime, they waited several months until he turned 18 and tried him as an adult for the offense.

they gave him 1-10 years. after about 1 and a half years, he made parole. they suspended his sentance and put him on probation for 5 years. well, after a year or so, he violated. they took him to jail and he is now waiting trial. and even tho he served 18 months of the 1-10 year sentence, the court doesnt want to include his time-served.

the pathetic part is that i know 2 other people who went joyriding...the both were charged with a misdemeanor. i guess it goes down like that when you have money.
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the pathetic part is that you have people doing more time for weed charges than people are pulling for murder or other violent crimes. myself, i am facing 6 months in the regional jail for driving on a dui revoked licence.... 6 months for driving. i could beat someone severely and get as much, or less time.

then, to top that off, the dui on my record NEVER HAPPENED. i had some other fines to pay off to get my license reinstated. after i paid them all off last november, the dmv sent me a letter saying i still have a dui to take care of. news to me. i called the court house in the county they said it was in....they have no record of it. i know it never happened. but somehow, the dmv has it under my name. so i gotta go to battle with them...

but i did learn an interesting tid-bit. the clerk at the magistrate court told me (in West Virginia at least) that even if you beat a dui charge in court, the arresting officer can still send a letter to the dmv saying that he, personally, believes you were driving under the influence (even tho the court found you innocent). on that officers word, the dmv will put the dui on your driving record and require you to have a dmv hearing to contest it and have it removed. if you dont have/win the dmv hearing, the dui stays on your driving record. you can then take the classes and pay out to the state to get your liscence back, just like you would if you convicted in court. how is that not double jeopardy?
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this country is a joke. i find it humorous to hear people call this place the "land of the free, home of the brave".... as that is sooo far from the truth. might as well rename this place Communist America. our civil liberties are being eroded daily. the sad part is that most americans are either too ignorant or complacent to notice or care.

THIS COUNTRY IS A JOKE!

I AGREE WITH YOU 110%
TALK ABOUT HITTING THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!

Apply Brendlin to the Franconia NH shooting tragedy.

You might want to check the application of this case to the Franconia shooting tragedy.

Make sure to click the links because they all tell one hell of a story.

http://christopher-king.blogspot.com/2007/06/was-liko-kenney-speeding-or...

And here is how the State reacted to our cameras:

http://christopher-king.blogspot.com/2007/06/kingcast-open-letter-to-nh-...

Peace.

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