In a 5-4 ruling the Ohio Supreme Court now requires a search warrant to search cell phone content which the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio calls a landmark decision as this appears to be a case of first impression. The defendant’s cell phone was searched without a warrant after he was arrested on drug charges based on a police sting operation. At trial the defendant claimed a violation of the 4th Amendment that although the police had the right to take his cell, the police did not have the right to search the contents of the cell. A decision to appeal to the US Supreme Court is pending.

US Supreme Court Agrees to Consider Text Messages

This week the Supreme Court agreed to consider the privacy claims of police officers text messages in City of Ontario v. Quon. The question before the Supreme Court is whether the city employees are entitled to privacy of the text messages stored at Arch Wireless’ servers since the city provided the text services to the officers as part of their jobs. Each officer received 25,000 characters a month as an allowance and the officers paid for any overages. The city paid no attention to the text messages until it discovered that officer Jeff Quon (who paid for characters above the allowance) had sent sexually explicit messages that were clearly personal and not business related. The question in this case is also a claim of violation of the 4th Amendment.

Web 2.0 Communications

Given what people post on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn it is a wonder that many folks expect much privacy today. Courts will continue to be confronted with perplexing issues regarding the use of the Internet and this will never be less complex, but as I  blogged this week Judges in Florida should not be social network friends with lawyers who appear before them in cases even though lawyers may contribute to their election campaigns. As web 2.0 expands one easily images that the courts will have to reconsider how the 1789 written Constitution applies.

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