News Release

Passenger Case Is a "Victory for Common Sense"

Passengers have rights too, Supreme Court says

Washington, DC (June 18, 2007) – Today’s Supreme Court decision holding that passengers in a car that has been illegally stopped by police have the same right as the driver to challenge the stop is a “victory for common sense,” said Martin S. (Marty) Pinales, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

“Anyone who has ever been pulled over by the police, or has ridden in a car that has been pulled over, knows that he is not ‘free to leave’ until the police say so,” Pinales said. “If the stop was unlawful, it would be strange to say that the driver is the only one who has been ‘seized’ by the cops. As today’s unanimous decision recognizes, no ‘reasonable’ person in this day and age feels free to jump out of the car and walk away from a traffic stop, legal or illegal. But today, the court has made it clear that passengers, too, have rights when they have been unconstitutionally detained by the police.”

NACDL filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the case, Brendlin v. California, No. 06-8120, which is available on the association’s Web site at

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Jack King, Public Affairs, (202) 872-8600 x288,

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.