This case had already been overturned when I started this website, but I'm including it because it's referred to so often in other cases that I've added, so I thought it'd be worth reading.
An officer stopped a car for speeding, found that none of the four occupants owned the car, and smelled burnt marijuana from inside the car. He noticed an envelope in the car that said "supergold," which he associated with marijuana (different world in the 80's huh?). He ordered all four occupants out of the car and arrested them for possession of marijuana.
He searched the car incident to arrest, found that the envelope did in fact contain marijuana, and found a jacket belonging to Belton (one of the passengers), which had cocaine in the pocket. He took all four occupants to jail. Belton took a plea bargain after the court refused to suppress the cocaine, but he reserved the right to appeal that judgment. And appeal he did.
So here's where it really gets funny. Before ruling that an officer could search the entire passenger compartment after the arrest of a recent occupant of the car (holding that the passenger compartment was under the control of any given occupant), this is what they said: "Fourth Amendment doctrine, given force and effect by the exclusionary rule, is primarily intended to regulate the police in their day-to-day activities and thus ought to be expressed in terms that are readily applicable by the police in the context of the law enforcement activities in which they are necessarily engaged. A highly sophisticated set of rules, qualified by all sorts of ifs, ands, and buts and requiring the drawing of subtle nuances and hairline distinctions, may be the sort of heady stuff upon which the facile minds of lawyers and judges eagerly feed, but they may be `literally impossible of application by the officer in the field....[a] single familiar standard is essential to guide police officers, who have only limited time and expertise to reflect on and balance the social and individual interests involved in the specific circumstances they confront." (emphasis added)
In other words, we had the Belton bright-line rule because the Supreme Court of the early 80's figured that cops were too dumb to deal with anything more complicated! Now, I'm all about keeping things as simple as possible (even though that often isn't very simple at all), but this just made me laugh.
It seems that court has stepped up its expectations of public servants somewhat.