Supreme Court Case: Riley Vs. California

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Riley v. California in 2014 was a case in which the United States Supreme Court argued whether the police has the right to search and seize digital content without a warrant, from individuals who have been arrested. So, the main question of the case was whether the evidence admitted at trial from Riley’s cell phone violated his Fourth Amendment right. The court ruled, by a unanimous vote that a warrantless cell phone search during an arrest is unconstitutional. On August 22, 2009, the police stopped David Leon Riley for driving with an expired registration tag. Then, the officer proceeded to impound Riley’s car because he was driving with a suspended license. To protect themselves against liability claims, the police are required to make a…show more content…
The writ questioned “Whether or under what circumstances the Fourth Amendment permits police officers to conduct a warrantless search of the digital contents of an individual’s cell phone seized from the person at the time of arrest”, SCOTUSblog.com; and it was granted on January 17, 2014 in part because Federal and State Courts had openly divided opinions over this issue. Riley v. California was argued on April 29, 2014 and a decision was made on June 25, 2014. The Supreme Court, under Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. declared by a unanimous decision that a warrantless cell phone search violates the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The court stated that the warrantless search exception (SITA) does not apply to this case because digital data store in an electronic device cannot be used as a weapon to harm officers. Although, the court recognizes that possible evidence stored on a cell phone may be wiped remotely, it also acknowledges that it could be avoided by disconnecting the cell phone from the network and placing it in a Faraday bag. Roberts court reach a majority decision on Riley v. California of 9 to 0 vote in favor of the…show more content…
On the other hand, 67% of the surveyed people think that police should not be allowed to search through a suspect’s cell phone without a warrant. I believe that public opinion has a strong effect on the decision-making process of our courts. Professor Barry Friedman of New York University School of Law thinks that “we the people” influence the decision of the U.S Supreme Courts. So, Prof. Friedman states that “the Justices will bend to the will of the people because the Courts requires public support to remain an efficacious branch of government”. However, political scientists are not so sure that public opinion has a direct influence on courts; nor they have found concrete evidence that support this
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