Brendlin v. California - Oral Argument - April 23, 2007

Brendlin v. California

Media for Brendlin v. California

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 18, 2007 in Brendlin v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 23, 2007 in Brendlin v. California

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument next in 06-8120, Brendlin versus California.

Ms. Campbell.

Elizabeth M. Campbell:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it pleast the Court:

When an officer makes a traffic stop, activates his flashing lights, he seizes not only the driver of the car but also the car and every person and everything in that car.

This unremarkable conclusion is what Petitioner asks this Court to rule on, rule today.

This simple rule is not only firmly rooted in this Court's precedence, it also protects police officers and the liberty interests of everyone traveling on a public State highway.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Well, it wouldn't apply in a taxicab, right?

I mean, the cab is driving erratically, the officer pulls it over.

If I'm a passenger in the cab, I think I can get out and catch another cab, right?

Elizabeth M. Campbell:

Whether or not you can get out and catch another cab is sort of a separate issue, but at the moment that the car comes to a stop you've been stopped by a Government means intentionally applied, and I believe you are seized at that point.

After that it may become a factual question with the totality of the circumstances and it may be significantly different from that, from the question we face in a case like this where it's a passenger in a private car.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

And would that apply if a bus was pulled over?

Elizabeth M. Campbell:

If a bus--

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

Everybody on the bus is seized?

Elizabeth M. Campbell:

--Once again, a forward motion stopped by government means intentionally applied is a seizure under this Court's holding in Brower.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

But you would have no reason if you were a passenger on a bus in the normal case to assume that the officer was concerned about you.

Your view would not be that they are stopping me, you'd think they're stopping the bus because the driver ran a red light or whatever.

Elizabeth M. Campbell:

With all due respect, I believe at that point what you believe is not necessarily the dispositive issue.

The dispositive issue is that your freedom of movement has been curtailed by government action.

David H. Souter:

Well, are you saying then that in a case in which the bus is stopped, the car is stopped and so on, the role for the test about whether a reasonable person would regard himself as free to leave is a test to determine when the, when the seizure ends, as distinct from when the seizure begins?

Elizabeth M. Campbell:

Exactly, Your Honor.

David H. Souter:

There's no other role for that test.

Elizabeth M. Campbell:

Exactly, Your Honor.

And I believe that's the rule we apply with respect to drivers.

We don't normally formulate it that was because usually there's a directive from the officer saying okay, you're free to leave, there's a clear point where the seizure ends.

But--

David H. Souter:

Yeah, but you're taking the position that whenever you are in a vehicle that is stopped, you are seized?

Elizabeth M. Campbell:

--Exactly.

Yes, Your Honor.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

In this case, is it correct to view this as... to view it this way: As soon as the officer approached the car, as I understand it, he recognized the Defendant as a potential parole violator.