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Name: U.S. v. Twilley
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/14/2000
Subsequent History: None
Summary

While a passenger in a vehicle stopped by the police does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the vehicle and therefore may not challenge the search of the vehicle, the passenger does have a privacy interest which permits him to challenge the stop of the vehicle. And if the stop of the vehicle is illegal, then as fruit of the poisonous tree, anything discovered in the subsequent search should be suppressed. In so ruling, the Ninth Circuit adopted the position of the Tenth Circuit in United States v. EylicioMontoya (10th Cir. 1995) 70 F.3d 1158, 1162. [Editor’s note: The Ninth Circuit reached a similar conclusion in United States v. Garcia (9th Cir. 2000) 205 F.3d 1182, 1187-88, and a petition for certiorari has been filed. (U.S. June 5, 2000)(No. 99-10021).] The government failed to show that the evidence seized here, 12 kilograms of cocaine, was not the fruit of the illegal stop by showing that the connection between the stop and the search of the vehicle was sufficiently attenuated to dissipate the taint. The interrogation and the search were the direct result of the illegal stop. While a passenger in a vehicle stopped by the police does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the vehicle and therefore may not challenge the search of the vehicle, the passenger does have a privacy interest which permits him to challenge the stop of the vehicle. And if the stop of the vehicle is illegal, then as fruit of the poisonous tree, anything discovered in the subsequent search should be suppressed. In so ruling, the Ninth Circuit adopted the position of the Tenth Circuit in United States v. EylicioMontoya (10th Cir. 1995) 70 F.3d 1158, 1162. [Editor’s note: The Ninth Circuit reached a similar conclusion in United States v. Garcia (9th Cir. 2000) 205 F.3d 1182, 1187-88, and a petition for certiorari has been filed. (U.S. June 5, 2000)(No. 99-10021).] A belief based on a mistaken understanding of the law cannot constitute the reasonable suspicion required for a constitutional traffic stop. Accordingly, the California police officer’s mistaken belief that the State of Michigan issues two license plates, did not constitute a reasonable suspicion permitting him to stop the vehicle in which appellant was a passenger because it displayed only one license plate. Although California law requires all issued plates to be displayed, because Michigan only issues one license plate, appellant was required to display only one plate. The legal justification for a traffic stop must be objectively grounded, and there is no good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule for police who do not act in accordance with governing law.