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Lawyers React To Supreme Court's Cellphone Search Ruling

Jun.25.2014 — Appellate, Privacy, Technology, and White Collar Law360

Los Angeles-based White Collar & Regulatory Enforcement partner and chair of the firm's Trial Practice, Janet Levine, tells Law360 the significance of the decision made by the Supreme Court on June 25 which states that in most circumstances law enforcement officers cannot search information on a detained suspect's cellphone without a warrant. Specifically, Levine says, "In an unexpectedly sweeping opinion, a nearly united Supreme Court recognized the Fourth Amendment's protection for digital privacy. Chief Justice Roberts' opinion is grounded on the Founders' abhorrence of general warrants and unparticularized intrusions into our private lives. It highlights the pervasiveness of cell-phone — 'minicomputer' — use, as well as the volume and breadth of data, current and historical, accessible through such devices. Continuing the sea-change started with Justice Sotomayor's concurrence in Jones, and citing to John Adams, the court voices deep concern about providing law enforcement warrantless windows into our lives, and skepticism about the government's officer-safety and risk-of-evidence-destruction rationales. Recognizing the revolutionary nature of modern technology, the court affirms that cell phones are different and tells the government the answer to its concerns is 'simple' — get a warrant."

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