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 http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/newsissues/Amicus?opendocument.
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