Oct 042010
 October 4, 2010  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Surveillance

Lyle Denniston reports that the Supreme Court declined to review a case involving cell phone privacy:

Opening a new Term on Monday, the Supreme Court once again indicated that it is reluctant to get deeply involved in exploring new issues about privacy in the Digital Age.  Without comment, it turned aside an appeal by the state of Ohio, asking the Justices to give police wider authority to check out the contents of a private cell phone they obtained during an arrest.


The Court has said explictly that it does not yet have a broad enough understanding of new electronic technology to make major pronouncements on the constitutional issues that are arising around it.  Last Term, for example, it moved cautiously in evaluating privacy on pagers that government agencies provide to their employees.  On Monday, it simply left another new issue to develop in the lower courts when it denied review in Ohio v. Smith (09-1377).

Ohio’s Supreme Court had ruled that a cell phone, obtained by police during an arrest of a suspected drug dealer, was not the kind of “container” that police may search without a warrant in order to protect their safety, or protect evidence from being destroyed, as they make an arrest.  The Fourth Amendment, the state court decided, requires police to obtain a warrant before they may examine the electronic data that is stored on a cell phone.

Read more on SCOTUSBlog.

FourthAmendment.com provides a link to the case  State v. Smith, 124 Ohio St.3d 163, 2009-Ohio-6426, 920 N.E.2d 949 (2009)

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