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IL high court considers search laws

Thu, 13 Sep 2012 04:19:02 CDT

The Illinois Supreme Court is considering whether police are justified in searching a car when the only evidence of wrongdoing they see is a single bullet. In a case argued this week, prosecutors asked the court to reinstate the charges against Michael Colyar. Police say they saw what looked like a single rifle bullet in Colyar's car, which justified handcuffing him and doing a pat down. That led to finding more bullets and, eventually, a large-caliber handgun. Colyar was accused of having a gun while being a convicted felon. But his lawyer, Algis Baliunas , argued police were not justified in their search:


"There was no leaning, bending, anything that would give rise to suspicion of any criminal activity. As I indicate in my brief, these people could have been attending an NRA convention."

Cook County prosecutor Anne Magat argued once police saw the bullet:


"It would be unreasonable for them to stand by and investigate standing outside of the car, and inquiring whether it's about an FOID card, whether they have a gun, and whether it's lawfully possessed."

Lower courts agreed with that idea and suppressed evidence obtained during the search. But prosecutors say it's well-established that police   can search people they talk to, in order to protect themselves from attack.

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