Thursday, March 03, 2011

New Mexico has a state constitution

The New Mexico Supreme Court, in State v. Levya, No. 32,067 (N.M. Feb. 17, 2011), applied its state constitutional provisions prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures to clarify that officers conducting a legitimate traffic stop should be limited to questioning related to that traffic stop. Even though the SCOTUS has recently watered down the "scope" limitation in such situations, many state supreme courts are holding fast under their state constitutions. The New Mexico Supreme Court aptly described its rationale:
Requiring a reasonable justification for the initial stop and that all questions asked during the stop be reasonably related to the reason for the stop or otherwise supported by reasonable suspicion … ensures that investigating officers do not engage in ‘fishing expeditions’ during traffic stops.

It's nice to see a state supreme court apply both the letter and spirit of its state constitution to protect its citizens from overreaching police activity.

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