Friday, April 21, 2017

R is for Riley

Riley v. California
[June 25, 2014, unanimous decision 9-0]

David Riley was a gang member in San Diego.  He and others opened fire on a rival gang member, then sped away.  Several days later, he was stopped for having expired registration and an expired license.  The car was towed and searched, and the police found guns which were later tied to the shooting.  When Riley was arrested, the police took his cell phone, searched it, and found photos of Riley and others making gang signs.

The Supreme Court decided unanimously that police need a warrant to search a suspect’s cellphone.  The search which accompanies an arrest is performed for officer safety and the preservation of evidence [including weapons and other contraband].  The cell phone can be removed but its contents cannot be searched without a warrant describing exactly what is on the phone that is implicated in the crime.  Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse.”

"Digital data stored on a cell phone cannot itself be used as a weapon to harm an arresting officer or to effectuate the arrestee's escape. Law enforcement officers remain free to examine the physical aspects of a phone to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon - say, to determine whether there is a razor blade hidden between the phone and its case. Once an officer has secured a phone and eliminated any potential physical threats, however, data on the phone can endanger no one."

Did you guess right?
Here's Saturday's hint - S is for Suicide.  Can you guess the case and what it's about?  Leave a comment!


  1. I am so glad they need a warrant for searching somebody's phone after a crime. Not really because of the person involved in the crime, but because I wouldn't want to get in trouble for things I or someone I know has searched for on my phone or computer. Plus, privacy. I currently dislike that Border Patrol can search your phone when you return from traveling, and I'm hoping that will be challenged in court. With a warrant and a belief that you did something wrong – sure. But just randomly is not cool. Just my opinion, anyway. :)

    With Love,

    1. Crossing the international border is an entirely different animal. I agree with you that a case on that issue would be interesting, but it's much more likely to be decided in the opposite direction.

  2. I can't hear the word suicide without immediately thinking of our former township resident Jack Kevorkian. Curious to see whst the case is.

  3. So how can they demand to search folks' cell phones at airports now? These people aren't usually suspects in anything...

    Impromptu Promptlings
    A to Z Challenge Letter S

    1. If it was an international flight, yes the cell phone may be searched. Even if the traveler is an American citizen and not a suspect in anything. Unfortunately.

    2. We sure live in a world of contradictions, I feel...