CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, January 22, 2007

SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Brendlin v. California

Supreme_court_20_15On Fri., Jan. 19, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the case Brendlin v. California, which addresses the issue as to whether a car passenger "seized" in a police stop has a 4th Amendment right to contest the legality of the original stop.

Police stopped a car for a traffic violation. Brendlin was a passenger. The police seized evidence of methamphetamine manufacturing that was in the car and on Brendlin's person. At his criminal trial Brendlin objected to the evidence on the ground that it was the illegal fruit of an illegal traffic stop. 

The California Supreme Court held (in a 4-3 vote) that "the passenger, whose progress is momentarily stopped as a practical matter, is not seized as a constitutional matter in the absence of additional circumstances that would indicate to a reasonable person that he or she was the subject of the peace officer’s investigation or show of authority." As a result, Brendlin did not have standing to object to the evidence that was seized.

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