I. A. Opinion in Pennsylvania v. Mimms

1. Facts

2. Decision of the Court

3. Analysis of reasoning

B. Opinion in Maryland v. Wilson

1. Facts

2. Decision of the Court

3. Analysis of reasoning

II. A. Plurality Opinion in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Gonsalves

1. Facts

2. Decisions of lower courts

3. State Supreme Court decision

a. Majority

b. Concurring

4. Analysis of reasoning

Opinion of Court in Pennsylvania v. Mimms

During a routine patrol, a police officer noticed that the defendant’s vehicle had an expired license plate. The officer pulled the defendant over to issue him a ticket for operating a vehicle without a current license plate. The officer asked Mimms to get out of the car. When Mimms got out of the car, the officer noticed a bulge in his jacket. Based his observation the officer searched Mimms and found a gun. Mimms was arrested for possesion of an illegal firearm. The District Court of Pennsylvania sentenced Mimms to prison for possession and concealment of a deadly weapon without a license.

Mimms appealed the decistion of the district court to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, on the grounds, that the officer’s instructions to get out of the vehicle and the searching of his person was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed the decision of the district court. Their reasoning was that the officer’s search of Mimms was a violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment. “However, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed on the ground that the police officer\'s order to the defendant to get out of his car was an

impermissible seizure under the Fourth Amendment because the order had been issued as a matter of routine rather than on the basis of objective observable facts supporting a suspicion that the driver posed a threat to the officer\'s safety, the revolver thus being the fruit of an unconstitutional search (370 A2d 1157).” Pennsylvania v. Mimms 234 U.S. 106, 111, 54L. Ed. 2d 331 98S. Ct. 330(1997) pg.2. Since the search was a violation of Mimms’ Fourth Amendment rights the gun was not admissible as evidence.

On appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the decision of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court was reversed by a majority of seven with two dissenting. The majority opinion stated that asking a driver out of the vehicle after a stop is but a small addition to the stop. “Against this important interest we are asked to weigh the intrusion into the driver\'s personal liberty occasioned not by the initial stop of the vehicle, which was admittedly justified, but by the order to get out of the car. We think this additional intrusion can only be described as de minimis.” Pennsylvania v. Mimms 234 U.S. 106, 111, 54L. Ed. 2d 331 98S. Ct. 330(1997). The Court weighed the inconvenience of asking a driver to step out of a vehicle against the safety of an officer. They agreed that it was not a violation of liberty to ask an individual to get out of a vehicle if it prevents an officer from being harmed. The Court concluded that this was but a minor intrusion on an individual’s liberty but not enough to violate the Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. When an officer stops a vehicle because of a violation, asking the driver for a license in addition to step out of the vehicle, is considered part of the stop, therefore it was not violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“ The driver is being asked to expose to view very little more of his person than is

already exposed. The police already lawfully decided that the driver shall be briefly detained; the only question is whether he shall spend that period sitting in the driver’s seat of his car or standing alongside it. Not only is the insistence of the police on the latter choice not a serious intrusion upon the sanctity of the person’s privacy, it hardly rises to the level of petty indignity. What is more a mere inconvenience cannot prevail when balanced against the legitimate concerns for the police officer’s safety.” Pennsylvania v. Mimms 234 U.S. 106, 111, 54L. Ed.