The Champion

November 2007 , Page 28 

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Brendlin's Consequential Treasure Trove

By Michael J. Wrubel

After a Terry stop, can the seizure still devolve into a consensual encounter without the seized detainee being given advance permission to leave? 

In a relatively short opinion handed down in June 2007, the Supreme Court held in Brendlin v. California1 that when a vehicle is pulled over for a traffic stop, the driver and any passengers in the vehicle are seized. Most criminal defense practitioners hailed the decision as a surprising extension of simple logic by our conservative High Court. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the ruling was the fact that the decision was unanimous.

Ever since Delaware v. Prouse,2 when the Court initially held that drivers pulled over to the side of the road in traffic stops were temporarily seized for Fourth Amendment purposes, questions have remained as to whether passengers could assert that their Fourth Amendment rights had been violated when an illegal traffic stop led to the discovery of evidence used to prosecute the

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