Illinois Supreme Court Case Could Limit Police Searches

September 11, 2012

The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a case that could limit police searches.The court is considering whether police are justified in searching a car when the only evidence of wrongdoing they see is a single bullet.

In the case argued on Monday, 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.

Colyar's 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," Baliunas said. "As I indicate in my brief, these people could have been attending an NRA convention."

Lower courts agreed and suppressed the evidence, so Cook County prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court.

Prosecutors say it is well-established that police can search people they talk to in order to protect themselves from attack.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio