Supreme Court says passengers can be frisked | MassCops

Supreme Court says passengers can be frisked

Discussion in 'Court Decisions' started by kwflatbed, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police officers have leeway to frisk a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation even if nothing indicates the passenger has committed a crime or is about to do so.
    The court on Monday unanimously overruled an Arizona appeals court that threw out evidence found during such an encounter.
    The case involved a 2002 pat-down search of an Eloy, Ariz., man by an Oro Valley police officer, who found a gun and marijuana.
    The justices accepted Arizona's argument that traffic stops are inherently dangerous for police and that pat-downs are permissible when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that the passenger may be armed and dangerous.
    The pat-down is allowed if the police "harbor reasonable suspicion that a person subjected to the frisk is armed, and therefore dangerous to the safety of the police and public," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.

    [​IMG]Wire Service
  2. Johnny Law

    Johnny Law Nemo me impune lacessit Staff Member

    Wow, unanimous,that doesn't happen very often. I was expecting to see 5-4 split again!
  3. Delta784

    Delta784 Guest

    I didn't think this court could agree 9-0 that the sun was coming up tomorrow morning.
  4. OfficerObie59

    OfficerObie59 Public Trough Feeder

    Wow, and Ginsberg wrote the opinion!

    Another USSC case that comes with the disclaimer "Massachusetts: Enjoy it while it lasts."
  5. Sgt K

    Sgt K MassCops Member

    Massachusetts was only one of three states that didn't adopt the "automatic exit" order, regardless of reason, that flowed from "Maryland v. Wilson" years ago. We still use the Comm. v. Gonsalves & Comm. v. Williams more stringent "officer safety" cases to guide our exit orders.
    I don't see how this decision will change anything.
  6. OfficerObie59

    OfficerObie59 Public Trough Feeder

    I believe you're overlooking the factors necessary to frisk, "resonable suspicion of being armed and dangerous", as this case seems to have nothing to do with the "automatic exit" order.

    An exit order under Gonsalves is okay as long as the officer believes that any occupant satisfies factors similar to the Ginsberg quote. If I'm not mistaken, Gonsalves indeed dealt with "automatic exit" orders of occupants as allowed under Mimms and further affirmed by Wilson in which there is no factor other than the officer simply wanted the occupant out of the car as a matter of course.
  7. Sgt K

    Sgt K MassCops Member

    Not overlooking them, you can't frisk (practically speaking) unless the subject is out of the vehicle. Massachusetts is still one of the three states that have REJECTED Mimms and Wilson electing to go with the more stringent Gonsalves analysis. IMHO
  8. OfficerObie59

    OfficerObie59 Public Trough Feeder

    I agree. But if someone is sitting in the passenger seat, and I want to frisk them, what's the problem? If I want to frisk and have the suspicion to frisk, I have the suspicion required by Gonsalves to give them the exit order to conduct the frisk of both the occupant and the immediate area of the vehicle in which they could access a weapon.

    Gonsalves basically said that an exit order is equivelent to a frisk regarding the level of suspicion needed. Just like you can't walk up to any Joe Schmoe on the street and frisk them, you can't order everyone out of the vehicle unless you have reasonable suspicion that a subject maybe armed and/or dangerous.

    Sgt K, please don't take my persistence as any sort of disrespect; I just love battling in law debates.
  9. Sgt K

    Sgt K MassCops Member

    No disrespect taken! I love legal keeps me on my toes and constantly reading. Keep up the good's appreciated.

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