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Supreme Court Considers Rules For Car Searches With Norfolk Case
By GINA HOLLAND
Associated Press Writer
(AP) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday debated how much freedom law officers should have in searching vacant cars.
Police are allowed to search a car when arresting someone in the vehicle for suspected wrongdoing, without getting a warrant, under a 23-year-old Supreme Court ruling.
Now justices are confronted with a different situation: What are officers to do when the suspicious person is outside the car, maybe a block away or in a gas station restroom.
The court is considering the 2001 search of a Virginia man's gold Lincoln Town Car. He had been driving in Norfolk when an officer noticed his flashy car and ordered a computer check that found the tag was issued for a Chevrolet. Before the officer could stop Marcus Thornton to give him a ticket, Thornton stopped in a shopping center parking lot and got out.
....In the Norfolk case, the officer found drugs in the man's pocket after confronting him in the parking lot. The lawman then searched the car and discovered a gun under the seat.