Illinois Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Police Searches

Sep 12, 2012

The Illinois Supreme Court is considering whether police are justified in searching a car, when the only evidence of wrongdoing they see is a single bullet. The case before the court stems from a police search in Chicago's South Suburbs.

In a case argued Monday, prosecutors asked the court to reinstate the charges against Michael Colyar. Police say they saw what looked like a single rifle bullet in Colyar's car, which justified handcuffing him and doing a pat down. That led to finding more bullets and, eventually, a large-caliber handgun.

Colyar was accused of having a gun while being a convicted felon.

But his lawyer, Algis Baliunas, argued police were not justified in their search.

"There was no leaning, bending, anything that would give rise to suspicion of any criminal activity.  As I indicate in my brief, these people could have been attending an NRA convention" Baliunas said.

Lower courts agreed with that idea and suppressed evidence obtained during the search.

But prosecutors say it's well-established that police can search people they talk to, in order to protect themselves from attack.