Ohio Supreme Court Rules Warrant Needed for Cell Phone Search

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mkrishnan, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #1
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/26/opinion/26sat2.html

    Seems like a good, important ruling. Hopefully this will disseminate into broader American law.
     
  2. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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  3. samiwas macrumors 65816

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    #3
    Yay! Score one more point for criminal's rights!
     
  4. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #4
    Then as a resident of the State of Georgia and resident/citizen of this country, count yourself as a criminal:

    All of us have been guaranteed this right, and as so, a Warrant was always needed for this. George W. Bush ran roughshot over this with the Patriot Act, which infringed on this. This ruling sets the law as it always should be.

    BL.
     
  5. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

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    #5
    When the worst among us have no rights, none of us have rights.
     
  6. IntheNet macrumors regular

    IntheNet

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    #6
    No; not really. When the "worst among us have no rights" the rest of us sleep peacefully... Let's examine the issue shall we?

    From the article, "...police arrested Antwaun Smith on drug charges they seized his cellphone and searched it..." I'm not seeing lots of rights lost here... if someone is selling drugs it makes sense he's using his cell phone as a drug selling apparatus... thus it is material to the crime and an important asset for police to search... let's get our priorities straight and stop this reckless sympathy for the criminal here and give the police the powers they need.

    Moreover, we are are getting closer to legal sanity here (again from the article), "Ohio Supreme Court ruled this month, by a 4-to-3 vote, that the search violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure."... we're close legally but not quite there... three justices have it absolutely right that police need interrogation capabilities and searching cell phone records seems part of that... four justices apparently out to lunch it seems... Let's work to get sane justices elected and boot these criminal sympathizing judges!

    Sanity comes when the Ohio Supreme Court (and other state courts) begin to put itself in the shoes of law enforcement and not in the shoes of feel good civil libertarians... cracking down on drug enforcement means cracking down on the tools of drug sales; i.e., cell phones and the records they hold.
     
  7. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #7
    So far, you've made an excellent argument for why police officers must be able to search cell phones, which is not at issue here, but no argument for why they must be able to do so without a warrant, which is at issue here....
     
  8. IntheNet macrumors regular

    IntheNet

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    #8
    Police officers arrest suspects and are typically given legal latitude to search the suspects upon arrest; i.e., search of their person and pockets, etc.

    Civil libertarians seem to draw some imaginary line that suspects' cell phones are apart from this search parameter when, indeed, a cell phone (or an account ledger for example) is simply part of the person and should fall under police scrutiny at the time of arrest, especially in drug arrests when cell phones are part of the crime...use of a search warrant is so absurd here that what is being done is putting untenable restraints upon officers to make cases...

    Court-issued search warrants should be reserved for searches of domicile/residences; with the phenomenal growth of technology we can't be treating all of it as protected, especially when criminals use tech to further crimes. Moreover, if the object you are are requesting a search warrant to protect changes (say from a cell phone => revolver) your whole civil libertarian issue disappears (you wouldn't surface the search warrant argument for a gun but you would for a cell phone - when in fact both are often tools of the drug trade)!
     
  9. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #9
    See now, at first, I didn't agree with anything that you said, but with the italics and the underlining, I suddenly find it remarkably compelling. ;)

    I'm open somewhat on this issue... the article notes that no distinction is made on the kind of phone that is involved or the kind of material that is recovered.

    If you think about an illicit businessman from, say, the 20s, when much of this technology did not exist, most of the kinds of information -- lists of contacts, ledgers and books, notes, perhaps photos, etc, would still have existed 90 or 100 years ago, yes?

    Now, if you consider the scope of that data, and what was considered "on" or "part of" the person at that time, I could perhaps concede that the phone numbers and call history of a cell phone fall into that category. But if my cell phone provides access to the currently 13851 received and 641 sent e-mails in my GMail account, constituting a sizable fraction of all the e-mails I've sent and received in the past four years since the account was created... first off, that information isn't even on my person in any real sense (my phone has to retrieve it from the internet). And it's even vastly out of the scope of things that normal people carry on their person in 2009, let alone 1920.

    So I don't think it's reasonable to say, hell, if you have an unlocked phone in your pocket, and it has passwords to all your online accounts, you've just opened the window for a warrantless investigation of years and gigabytes of data stored about you on the internet.
     
  10. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #10
    IntheNet all this does is require the cops to get a warrant to search the phone. I am going to tell you that it will be a cake walk to get it for the cops.
    Cars are not allowed to be search with out a warrant even if you are arrested on the side of the road the police have to get a warrant to search your car so most of the time they will impound you car on the spot and tow it to the lot at which point they will get a warrant for it.

    I support this because it protects everyone rights. Police should not have access to my email for example with out a warrant which is on my cell phone or my contact list which is on my cell phone and the lists goes one. Cell phones today are small computers and to search a laptop that you had on your person when you are arrested requires a warrant.
     
  11. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #11
    I tend to agree, although I could be convinced by a cogent legal argument.

    There are several points in this. The first is, does a cellphone count as a personal computer (and thereby subject to its own set of warrant requirements) or is it legally considered to be akin to carrying a notebook? Can we split the difference between locally stored information and that stored elsewhere? And, if any information that cellphone has is fair game, what's to stop police from searching your Facebook page, et. al and using that information to build post-hoc probable cause reasoning?

    Moreover, the law enforcement argument is always towards streamlining the arrest and information gathering, but how much trouble is a warrant and can that warrant become de rigueur for specific kinds of arrests? Additionally, only moderately intelligent criminals can make this warrant a requirement anyway by locking their cellphones with a pass-code.
     
  12. colourfastt macrumors 6502a

    colourfastt

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    #12
    Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


    What part of that do you not understand?
     
  13. IntheNet macrumors regular

    IntheNet

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    #13
    What do you consider "unreasonable" in a drug arrest for a search?
    Pockets okay/cell phone not okay?
    What do you consider "probable cause" in a drug arrest for a search?
    Pockets okay/cell phone not okay?

    In the name of national security, current society adopts measures to allow law enforcement to uphold personal safety during public arrests and follow-on searches and seizures. We can't pick and choose and allow local police to set up, for example, personal sobriety checkpoints yet complain when cell phones are checked and seized during drug arrests; at the same time we can't pick and choose and allow transportation security administration personnel to check everything down to our socks at airport access points yet complain when airlines safety is somehow compromised. From your citation of Fourth Amendment, it sounds like you want it to be globally encompassing for all citizens, yet able to be abridged at some points. What part of it do you understand? What are those points? I am willing to give to law enforcement some leeway, during drug arrests for example, that an attendant cell phone seized can be searched, as a material witness - so to speak - for evidence. Other objects are typically confiscated when found by law enforcement during arrests (pocket/body search); i.e., drugs on persons, firearms on persons, weapons on persons, etc. Why not cellphones? Those who have nothing to hide shouldn't be worried; those that do are in deep trouble.
     
  14. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #14
    ^^ In the scale of things drugs offences are generally pretty minor, and if they have cause they can search the person's mobile phone - they just need a warrant.
     
  15. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #15

    And you still do not get it. In a drug arrest the cops will have no problems getting a warrant.

    This provents the cops from lets say picking you up on the side of the street for lets say public drunkness. They normally the cops search you for things and they will find your cell phone. Now the cops should not be allowed to go dig threw the phone to see if they can charge you with more. That is what we are protected from.

    IntheNet you seem to believe that the goverment should have the right to put tracking devices in you to see where ever you go. See everything you buy or sell and anything you do. ALL in the name of public safety. Sorry but no. That is not the case.
    The US consitution was set up to protect the people from the government taking to much power and be to controlling. We have president after president going around that. Bush was pretty bad. Obama is doing other things to go around it. One in the name of public safety. The other in the Name of the Economy.
     
  16. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

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    #16
    Okay, so it's not just the 1st amendment that InTheNet hates, but also the 4th.
     
  17. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #17
    No- it's The USA and freedom that InTheNet hates. He does not wish to live in a free country and has demonstrated that many times. He only wants to live in a country where everyone follows his rules.
     
  18. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #18
    No, no, no... do it like this:

     
  19. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

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    #19
    InTheNet spends so much time on these forums but has yet to pick out an avatar.

    I think we should do it for him! What avatar would be appropriate for him? :D
     
  20. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #20

    He is not eligible for an avatar. He pretty much limits his screed to the PRSI.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

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    #21
    I guess that explains alot huh? Many trolls on PRSI don't have avatars...
     
  22. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #22
    I was a public defender for two counties. I've done everything from murder to speeding.

    In other words, I know a little about the topic.

    That being said, Inthemac and many others elsewhere have argued for giving law enforcement more and more powers to search and/or detain. These arguments almost always center around the need to protect us or the need to make sure the criminals are punished.

    I can tell you with no reservations, that this rule will in no way stop the criminal justice system from being able to protect people or punish criminals.

    What it will do is (maybe) prevent the police from infringing on people's right to privacy. With no warrant requirement, the officer could take your iphone phone during a traffic stop, and search all your emails, internet history, etc...

    There is a reason we have so much legal precedent on reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

    Edit - Oh, and there is a huge difference between searching your pockets for dangerous items and searching a telephone. One is designed for the protection of the officer, the other is designed to gather evidence. Because of the need to protect the officer, the required suspicion is lower for a pat down. On the other hand, searching a cell phone has no such security need, and would be similar to any other property searched by an officer.
     
  23. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #23
    Given the amount of personal information stored on cell phones today, I think this is a good ruling.
     
  24. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #24
    To say nothing of the fact that more and more people these days are using cell phones as their primary phones instead of a landline (the fiancee and I haven't had a landline for about 3 years now when she made me get one of the blasted things). Extending existing protections from land to cell lines is entirely reasonable and appropriate.
     

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