Jiayao Huang1/29/2018 Case Brief: Riley v.California Supreme Court FactsLawenforcement officers instructed David Riley to halt hiscar at the side road for driving the Lexus with expired tags.
They impoundedthe vehicle after discovering that the offender was using an expired license.The San Diego police department found two firearms in the confiscated car.Accordingly, it arrested the offender for the concealed guns and examined hissmartphone.
The agency searched Riley’s text messages on the seized phone anddiscovered that the lawbreaker might have participated in gang-related offenses.Later, an investigator found a photograph on the cell phone that linked the lawoffender to a motor vehicle used in another gang shooting. In fact, the phonerecords proved that Riley was at the crime scene.
It is worth mentioning thatthe San Diego detectives did not have a warrant for these investigations.Nonetheless, Riley was charged with shooting due to this evidence. However, herequested the trial court to put the provided body of facts out of judicialconsideration since the law enforcement officers obtained it through an illegalsearch without getting a writ from a judge. Nevertheless, the court refused togrant the petition, and the California Court of Appeal argued that theexamination was legally acceptable. Consequently, Riley, who presented an issuerelated to the Fourth Amendment before the U.S. Supreme Court, wanted judges toprevent the utilization of information drawn from a phone seized during awarrantless search; fortunately, the judges made a correct determination byrendering a decision that favored Riley, which upheld the requirement of theFourth Amendment.HistoryRileyrequested the court to restrain the use of the evidence obtained during thesearch by asserting that its inclusion during the trial amounted to a violationof the Fourth Amendment rights.
However, the trial court concluded that theargument was invalid and emphasized that it was legal to conduct theexamination during the arrest. The ruling led to the conviction of Riley.Similarly, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decree by relying on anearlier judgment made in People v. Diaz.In Diaz, the California Supreme Courtmaintained that the Constitution specifies that the police can comprehensivelysearch a mobile phone found near the person being sued or accused.The IssueRileypresented a Fourth Amendment issue before the highest federal court in the U.
S.The petitioner wanted the judges to determine whether it was legitimate for thelaw enforcement agency to examine the contacts, photos, and videos on a mobilephone that the police take temporary possession of once they take a person intocustody, even if they do not have a warrant. It is important to understand thatthe Fourth Amendment allows officers to carry out only reasonable searches.Hence, the law requires the police to obtain a legal document before checkingthe accused individuals or their properties. However, it is not compulsory fora detective to get a writ from a court when performing such examinations in thecourse of a lawful arrest. During warrantless searches, it is theresponsibility of the judiciary to assess whether it is “reasonable” by givingcareful consideration to the protection of citizens’ right to privacy and theneed to uphold the state’s legal interests. Similarly, this lawsuit assessedthe constitutionality of examining an arrested person’s phone based on thestipulations of the Fourth Amendment.Decision and ReasoningTheSupreme Court ruled that officers should obtain a warrant before subjecting aperson and a cell phone to a search when conducting an arrest.
It consideredthe value of mobile phones and the available data carefully and methodicallywhile making this determination. In particular, the court maintained thatcarrying a warrantless search of the digital information on the phone of adetained person contravened the U.S. Constitution. It concluded that thewarrant exception that was stipulated in the law to ensure the safety of thepolice did not apply to the case since the offender could not use the data eitheras a weapon or the means of escape. Besides, the justices rejected thegovernment’s arguments that the arrestee would have destroyed the evidence.They maintained that California should have considered more appropriate methodsof preventing data loss instead of checking the accused’s phone without awarrant.
Indeed, the judges argued that it was a rare event for a person towipe such information remotely. They pointed out that the U.S.
citizens haveprivacy interests in these electronic devices because they contain a lot of privateinformation. Hence, the court concluded that the country’s regulations allowthe law enforcement agency to seize a mobile during an arrest but prohibitsthem from examining the digital contents contained in the gadget without awrit.Dissenting Opinion and Personal OpinionThejudges ruled for the petitioner unanimously. I support this judgment because itadheres to the stipulations of the U.
S. Constitutions and the relevant laws.Indeed, the law allows the police to search digital data without the requiredcourt approval only when there is an evident ongoing emergency.
Moreimportantly, the decision expands the freedom of expression by considering thesignificance of mobile phones and the digital information saved in thesegadgets in people’s lives. I understand that the justices did not expresslyfocus on the subject of expression since Riley’s lawsuit addressed the FourthAmendment right against illegal and warrantless searches. Nonetheless, I feelthat this case is important because it sets a precedent for considering thevalue of digital content that people store on their mobiles.ConclusionRileypresented an issue related to the Fourth Amendment before the highest federalcourt in the U.S. The petitioner wanted the judiciary to stop the utilizationof evidence obtained from his phone during a warrantless search since he feltthat the action infringed his rights.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Rileyby concluding that the police agency should have obtained a warrant beforesubjecting the cell phone to a search. Similarly, I support this decisionbecause it complies with the stipulations of the U.S. Constitutions and otherapplicable laws and expands the freedom of expression.