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US v. Flores-Lopez: Does the Phone Booth Now Reside Inside the Phone?
By Daniel Gelb
Cover Story columns.
February 29, 2012, was a novel day because of the decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in United States v. Flores-Lopez.1 Justice Richard A. Posner authored the opinion on behalf of the three-judge appellate panel, holding that a search of the defendant’s cell phone — without a warrant for the purpose of recovering its phone number — did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s Warrant Clause.
Flores-Lopez involved the arrest and federal criminal prosecution of defendant Abel Flores-Lopez for, among other charges, distribution of methamphetamine. The prosecution built its case on an undercover controlled purchase arranged through a co-defendant, Alberto Santana-Cabrera, who was also charged for acting as the liaison between Flores-Lopez and an undercover agent posing as the buyer. Flores-Lopez was charged with (1) possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, and (2) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a d
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