The Champion

November 2007 , Page 42 

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By John Wesley Hall

A Stop of a Car Is a Stop of Everybody in It: Brendlin v. California

Until Brendlin v. California1 came along, everybody, and virtually every court, except a majority of the California Supreme Court, assumed that a traffic stop amounted to a stop of all the occupants of the vehicle, too. The Supreme Court, in 1979, even said so in dicta in Delaware v. Prouse. But, prior to Brendlin, the Supreme Court had never specifically addressed the question.

Brendlin’s facts: Brendlin involved a suspicionless stop of a vehicle with a temporary tag. Once the vehicle was stopped, the officer recognized the passenger as being “one of the Brendlin brothers,” but he could not remember which one. He knew that one brother had dropped out of parole supervision. He directed the passenger to identify himself, and Brendlin did, and then the officer determined by a call to dispatch that Brendlin had a PV warrant with a no bond provision. The officer approached the car, pulled his gun

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