United States v. Drayton, 536 U.S. 194, 9 (2002)

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next



Opinion of the Court

ing about whether the police conduct is coercive. Id., at 436. The proper inquiry "is whether a reasonable person would feel free to decline the officers' requests or otherwise terminate the encounter." Ibid. Finally, the Court rejected Bostick's argument that he must have been seized because no reasonable person would consent to a search of luggage containing drugs. The reasonable person test, the Court explained, is objective and "presupposes an innocent person." Id., at 437-438.

In light of the limited record, Bostick refrained from deciding whether a seizure occurred. Id., at 437. The Court, however, identified two factors "particularly worth noting" on remand. Id., at 432. First, although it was obvious that an officer was armed, he did not remove the gun from its pouch or use it in a threatening way. Second, the officer advised the passenger that he could refuse consent to the search. Ibid.

Relying upon this latter factor, the Eleventh Circuit has adopted what is in effect a per se rule that evidence obtained during suspicionless drug interdiction efforts aboard buses must be suppressed unless the officers have advised passengers of their right not to cooperate and to refuse consent to a search. In United States v. Guapi, supra, the Court of Appeals described "[t]he most glaring difference" between the encounters in Guapi and in Bostick as "the complete lack of any notification to the passengers that they were in fact free to decline the search request. . . . Providing [this] simple notification . . . is perhaps the most efficient and effective method to ensure compliance with the Constitution." 144 F. 3d, at 1395. The Court of Appeals then listed other factors that contributed to the coerciveness of the encounter: (1) the officer conducted the interdiction before the passengers disembarked from the bus at a scheduled stop; (2) the officer explained his presence in the form of a general announcement to the entire bus; (3) the officer wore a police uniform; and (4) the officer questioned passengers as he

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007