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Michigan court tightens legal standard on car searches

Photo from Michigan State Supreme Court Historical Society

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has tightened the legal standard for searching people during a traffic stop.

The court ruled in favor of a car passenger who said his rights were violated when police in Jackson County searched his backpack without his consent.

The backpack held marijuana and methamphetamine. But in a unanimous decision Monday, the Supreme Court says the search was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says Larry Mead had a “legitimate expectation” of privacy.

Mead was a passenger in a car stopped by a sheriff’s deputy. The deputy looked in Mead’s backpack after the driver said the car could be searched.

McCormack compared it to someone using a ride-sharing service. She says police can’t search a passenger based on consent from a driver. Mead served nearly three years in prison.

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