The Supremes granted cert. today in a case of importance to military justice practitioners.
Lyle Dennison at SCOTUSBlogs BLUF:
Moving into another conflict between technology and privacy, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday afternoon to rule on police authority to search the contents of a cellphone they take from an individual they have arrested. The Court accepted for review a state case and a federal case, involving differing versions of hand-held telephone capacity.
This is a regular happening for clients who are interviewed by military law enforcement. For good reasons investigators are taking their phones. (I wish they’d get the phone data, texts, and emails from the CW as well.) Anyway, in Riley v. California, the QP is:
Whether evidence admitted at petitioner’s trial was obtained in a search of petition’s cell phone that violated petitioner’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Jeffrey Fisher of Crawford fame appears to be lead counsel. The other case is United States v. Wurie (QP: Whether the Fourth Amendment permits the police, without obtaining a warrant, to review the call log of a cellphone found on a person who has been lawfully arrested.).
For the techies —
During the arrest, Officer Dunnigan seized petitioner’s cell phone from his person. The phone was a Samsung Instinct M800 “smartphone” – a touch-screen device designed to compete with Apple’s iPhone, capable of accessing the internet, capturing photos and videos, and storing both voice and text messages, among other functions.
Riley’s petition notes:
The struggle to apply this Court’s precedent to the unique technological capabilities of cell phones has divided federal courts of appeals and state courts of last resort over whether police officers may search the digital contents of a cell phone incident to arrest. At least six courts hold that the Fourth Amendment permits such searches, while at least three others hold that it does not.
The United States, petitioner in Wurie also notes the split of authority.