Tuesday, March 13, 2012

District court orders suppression after lengthy delay for cell phone search

A Georgia federal district court has ordered suppression of evidence obtained from cell phones because of an unreasonable three month delay in searching the phones. United States v. Shaw, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32624 (N.D. Ga. 2012). The phones had been searched incident to arrest and were placed into inventory. Months later, the government obtained search warrants to further search the phones.

The court cited Eleventh Circuit precedent in Mitchell (565 F.3d 1347 (11th Cir. 2009)) which found that a 21-day delay to search a computer was unreasonable because it "constituted a significant interference with Defendant's possessory interest."

Because the government had no justification for the delay and cell phones may contain a great deal of personal information, the continued seizure and search was unreasonable.


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