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Cops: Exceed a frisk at your own risk

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Bill of Rights. (From the public domain.)

Praised be Maryland’s highest court, which this week reversed a conviction where the police opened a gym bag (and found heroin there), without more than reasonable, articulable suspicion at the time. The Court confirmed:

"When the container is subjected to a more intrusive search in lieu of a pat-down, the State can sustain its burden of proof that the search was reasonable either by having the officer explain why it was necessary to conduct that search or by demonstrating from the container itself that a pat-down would not have revealed the presence or absence of a weapon. It is not a difficult burden, only a necessary one. It derives from the requirement laid out in Terry itself that the officer “be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the intrusion.” McDowell v. Maryland, ___ Md. ___ (Feb. 19, 2009). Jon Katz