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Mich. Supreme Court to revisit rules on searches

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether police officers illegally searched the backpack of a passenger in a stopped vehicle. The passenger says officers should have first asked his permission.

Larry Mead was riding in a vehicle stopped for an expired plate. The driver gave permission for police to search the vehicle, where Mead left his backpack. The officers found methamphetamine in the backpack.

After he was charged, Mead tried to have the evidence suppressed, arguing police could search the car, but needed his OK to search his backpack. Both the Jackson County Circuit Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the driver’s permission applied to the vehicle and everything in it.

The state Supreme Court has upheld similar searches, but it wants to know now if a 28-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision might require a change in Michigan’s rules for police searches.

Regardless of what the court does, it won’t change Mead’s sentence. The Michigan Department of Corrections website says he was paroled this week after serving two years in prison on the drug possession conviction.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.