Washington, DC (June 25, 2014) – In a single unanimous ruling today, the U.S. Supreme Court held in both Riley v. California (13-132) and United States v. Wurie (13-212) that even in the context of an arrest, absent exigent circumstances, a warrant is required for police to search the contents of electronic devices like a cellphone or smartphone.
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Jerry J. Cox said: "NACDL has long argued that a person’s Fourth Amendment rights do not disappear upon arrest. Today, the Court made this clear and rejuvenated the Fourth Amendment in the digital age. The Court has long held 'a man's home is his castle.' Now the castle is in your pocket."
Chief Justice Roberts delivered the Court’s opinion, stating that both cases raise a common question: “whether the police may, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.” Finding the answer to be “simple – get a warrant." The Court rightly points out, among other important observations, that:
- "…a cell phone search would typically expose to the government far more than the most exhaustive search of a house: A phone not only contains in digital form many sensitive records previously found in the home; it also contains a broad array of private information never found in a home in any form – unless the phone is."
- "Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be kept on an arrestee's person. The term 'cell phone' is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone. They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers."
- "Data on a cell phone can also reveal where a person has been….and can reconstruct someone’s specific movements down to the minute, not only around town but also within a particular building."
- "Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life[.]'"
As a friend of the Court, NACDL strongly urged today’s outcome, arguing for such a warrant requirement. NACDL filed a joint amicus brief in Riley together with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. And in Wurie, NACDL filed a joint amicus brief with the National Association of Federal Defenders. More information about NACDL’s significant work in the Fourth Amendment/Privacy arena is available at http://www.nacdl.org/fourthamendment.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.