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Name: United States v. McWeeney
Case #: 05-10349
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/21/2006

Clarifying a rule that a request from a law enforcement agent to “look,” in the proper context, is the same as a request to “search,” the court held that a police officer, who received oral consent to his request to “look” in a car for anything that the defendant and the driver were “not supposed to have,” did not exceed the scope of the defendant’s general consent by searching the trunk and lifting loose carpet liner. The court remanded for an evidentiary hearing as to whether the defendant and the passenger, when they turned around to watch the search and were instructed by the officers to turn back around, were coerced into believing that they had no authority to limit or withdraw their consent. The court concluded that once the coercion question is answered, the district court should determine whether the search violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights and, if so, whether the violation justifies suppression of the evidence. Concurring in all respects except for the need for remand to determine whether coercion prevented the defendant from exercising his right to consent, from which she dissented, Judge B. Fletcher wrote that “[a]ny reasonable person would recognize that two punk kids ordered out of their car, by police officers, told to turn their backs while their car is searched are afraid to disobey authority.”