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November 2006
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Fourth Amendment alive and crawling in front of my house

Living on West Market Street in Bloomington, Illinois, I’m used to seeing a lot of traffic stops. I don’t know if I saw this one, but it’s nice to know that there’s a judge in my area who believes that the Fourth Amendment still is important.

[redacted], was arrested following a traffic stop Feb. 8 on West Market Street. Court records say [redacted] car did not have a functioning light over the rear license plate.
After stopping him, Bloomington police patted him down and found 4.6 grams of marijuana in a plastic bag in one of his pockets, according to court documents. A subsequent search found 10 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of his car.
He was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver the drug, according to court documents.
“The judge found that the officers discovered the drugs following a search, which was not justified,” said Assistant Public Defender Brian McEldowney. “They did a pat-down search, and the judge found there was no basis for that.”

Of course, such a story is always bound to bring out commenters who complain about a criminal getting off on a technicality, but as always they miss the point — this is about the rule of law, about our rights as Americans, as free citizens, not about technicalities.

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