Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules for warrantless vehicle searches
Police in Pennsylvania are no longer required to secure a warrant to search a vehicle, after a state Supreme Court ruling Tuesday.
The 4-2 split decision aligns the state's vehicle search law with the federal counterpart, which justifies a search if the officer can demonstrate probable cause.
Chief Justice Ronald Castille, and Justices J. Michael Eakin, Seamus McCaffery and Thomas Saylor held the majority vote. The majority intention, according to McCaffery, is to standardize police search protocol, and cut back on evidence suppression motions and other litigation that muddle the judicial process.
“To provide greater uniformity in the assessment of individual cases and more consistency with regard to the admissibility of the fruits of vehicular searches based on probable cause, a more easily applied rule — such as that of the federal automobile exception — is called for,” reads McCaffery's statement in the report.
The decision arose after an evidence suppression effort by Shiem Gary, who was stopped in 2010 by Philadelphia police on a potential window tint violation. The offier reported an odor of marijuana emanating from Gary's SUV and 2 pounds of the drug were found underneath the hood of the vehicle. Gary challenged the legitimacy of the search and won in the state Superior Court.
Justices Debra McCloskey Todd and Max Baer voted against.
“Our Court, by adopting the diluted federal automobile exception and sanctioning the search of Appellee's vehicle under Article 1, Section 8, based solely on the officer's determination of probable cause, has eviscerated the strong privacy protections that amendment affords the people of pennsylvania in their automobiles,” reads Todd's dissenting opinon statement. “By so doing, our Court heedlessly contravenes over 225 years of unyielding protection against unreasonable search and seizure which our people have enjoyed as their birthright.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pa. trooper ambush suspect Frein in court after long manhunt
- Police: Man wanted in fatal ambush of Pennsylvania trooper finally captured
- Scam nets thousands from Mercer County woman, police say
- Balloon doesn’t locate Frein
- Newsmaker: Thomas M. Thompson
- Pa. Supreme Court in ‘sad state’ as scandals tarnish reputation
- Bill makes state rebate for property taxes or rent more available to seniors
- Attorneys want ‘Kids for Cash’ figure’s windfall frozen
- Bill that would end district-level review of homeschooling in Pennsylvania goes to Corbett
- Unmanned balloon used in hunt for alleged Pennsylvania trooper shooter