FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

Top News

Supreme Court Rules On Motorist Searches

January 16, 2002  | 

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that in evaluating whether a police officer had "reasonable suspicion" to detain a suspect briefly for questioning, courts should pay more attention to the officer's experience and the event's overall context than to individual parts of an incident.

The case concerned a federal border patrol agent's stop of a minivan carrying two adults and three children on an unpaved road in a remote area of southern Arizona. The vehicle was found to be carrying 128 pounds of marijuana, but the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the stop was unconstitutional because the border patrol agent did not have reasonable suspicion.

The appeals court looked at the incident in separate components, such as the minivan driver slowing abruptly when he saw the patrol car, avoiding eye contact with the agent, and the children in the back seat waving at teh agent in an oddly mechanical manner, as if they had been instructed to do so. The appeals court ruled that these events were "insufficient to give rise to reasonable suspicion."

In his opinion, Chief William H. Rehnquist said the appeals court's assessment of the case's individual factors was inconsistent with the Supreme Court's insistence in its precedents that reasonable suspicion be based on a "totality of the circumstances."

Rehnquist said the border patrol agent, Clinton Stoddard, "was entitled to make an assessment of the situation in light of his specialized training and familiarity with the customs of the area's inhabitants."

Tags: U.S. Supreme Court Cases


Be the first to comment on this story





POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent News

Video: Milwaukee Chief Calls Out Black Activists Over Their Priorities After Public Meeting
A video of an emotional Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn decrying community activists...
Police Unions Call for Mandatory Body Armor, Seat Belt Policies
During the past three decades, 42% of police killed in auto accidents were not wearing...
New Jersey Officer Charged with Shooting Patrol Car
Da'Shaun Carr, 23, of Clayton, was charged Nov. 17 with false public alarm in the incident...
Video: Rookie NYPD Officer Shoots, Kills Unarmed Man in Brooklyn Project
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said that the victim, Akai Gurley, was "a total...
Video: Officer Darren Wilson Discussing Resignation with Ferguson Officials
Wilson has told associates he would resign to help ease pressure and protect his fellow...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine