Monday, April 25, 2005

US v. Pulliam

No. 03-50550 (4-21-05), This is an interesting standing case. The defendant was a passenger in a car. He was also tied to a gang. The LAPD admitted that they were looking for a reason to stop the car, and so spotted the usual defective left brake light. After the stop, and the detention, the car was searched and a weapon found under the passenger seat. The gov't admitted that the detention was illegal and so the subsequent statements were suppressed. The court also suppressed the gun as "fruit of the poisonous tree." The 9th (Wallace) reversed, holding that the passenger/defendant had no standing as to the car stop, and would only have standing if he sought to leave in the car but was detained. The 9th looked at Rakas and drew fine distinctions between having a possessory interest in the car and being just a passenger. In a compelling dissent, Wardlaw take s the majority to task for ignoring the 9th's precedent that treated the car, driver and passenger as the same continuum for "fruit" analysis. Wardlaw chides the majority for mixing up the apples of 4th amend. standing with the oranges of "fruit." Wardlaw further argues that there is no principled reason to distinguish between a situation involving an illegal stop, in which case a passenger can suppress, from a situation involving a legal stop but illegal detention.


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