The Champion

November 2007 , Page 34 

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Police Interrogation During Traffic Stops: More Questions Than Answers

By Tracey Maclin

One would ordinarily be cautious in criticizing a position taken by two respected federal appellate judges who come from opposite sides of the political spectrum: the liberal Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit and the generally conservative Judge Michael McConnell of the Tenth Circuit.1 But both judges have misread two Supreme Court rulings, and in the process, have extended the authority of police officers to arbitrarily interrogate motorists during routine traffic stops. The judges’ interpretation, if not corrected, will undermine Fourth Amendment protections that courts across the nation have uniformly recognized since Terry v. Ohio.2 

Traffic stops affect millions of Americans every year. Typically, a vehicle is detained for a routine traffic violation. While processing the driver’s papers, or pending a computer check of outstanding warrants for the motorist or passenger, an officer may question the motorist about the purpose of his trip, dest

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