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Florida v. Bostick

Random Bus And Train Searches

Legal writer Stuart Taylor, discussing random searches in Manhattan Lawyer, would no doubt have taken quite a different view. "It's after midnight," Taylor wrote, setting the scene for his discussion. "You are hurrying through the airport with a carry-on bag, impatient to get home . . . A man keeps pace with you, staying close . . . Another man hovers nearby. You walk faster. The first man closes in from the side. The other circles behind you. Your heart is pounding. `Excuse me.' He flashes a badge. `Can I talk to you?' . . . You know you've done nothing wrong. But suddenly you're a suspect. Your hands are shaking." Taylor went on to ask readers if they knew their rights in such a situation, and noted that many courts would not consider such an approach coercive. But in Taylor's view, these random airport, train station, or bus terminal searches are indeed coercive, precisely because no one wants to invoke their rights for fear of raising suspicions that they are carrying something illegal. "And so we have moved into a regime of random police fishing expeditions," he observed, "in which innocent citizens must submit to searches or be branded as drug suspects for refusing."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Florida v. Bostick - Significance, Minority Opinion, Impact, Random Bus And Train Searches, Further Readings