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Opening Arguments

Stretching the truth

Here's one of those cases that will have some on my side howling that a criminal got off on a technicality. But if I'm ever suspected of anything, I'd like all those technicalities to be observed:

The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a woman's cocaine possession conviction because the court says the search of her purse by police was unjust.

Tamica Webster was arrested in September 2007 during a traffic stop in South Bend in which an Indiana State Police officer pulled over Webster and her boyfriend on suspicion of speeding.

Pulling someone over for a traffic violation doesn't give the police carte blanche to do whatever they want to. A police officer first let the woman walk away but later called her back because he believed "she had the car's registration in her purse." What would lead him to believe that, since she wasn't the driver? It was then noticed that the purse "appeared to be stretched," and the officer "believed she might have a gun." A stretched purse means it has a gun? That's well, a stretch. This sounds like a case in which police went on a fishing expedition, then came up with a lot of after-the-fact cya nonsense.


Bob G.
Wed, 06/24/2009 - 10:38am

It all boils down to that damnable adjective "REASONABLE", as in a REASONABLE suspicion that something was not normal during the traffic stop.

It could come down to the behavior of the driver (or passenger), the manner or style of driving, or a number of other things.

And it's always better to "err" on the side of caution, when it comes to the "unknown", like contents of a purse or vehicle.
That will hope to ensure the officer gets to go home to his family...
Just ask them.