State of Illinois v. Sneed

Brief of the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amici Curiae in Support of Defendant–Appellant.

Brief filed: 06/14/2022


State of Illinois v. Sneed

Supreme Court of Illinois; Case No. 127968


This case presents important questions of first impression in this Court: whether the privileges against self-incrimination found in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 10 of the Illinois Constitution1 preclude the State from forcing a criminal defendant to recall and enter the passcode to his encrypted cell phone, thereby delivering the phone’s contents to the government for use against him in a criminal proceeding. They do. Under long-standing precedent, the State cannot compel a suspect to assist in his own prosecution through recall and use of information that exists only in his mind. See Curcio v. United States, 354 U.S. 118, 128 (1957). The realities of the digital age only magnify the concerns that animate these state and federal privileges. Here, however, the Appellate Court rejected the application of those privileges, holding that the State could compel Mr. Sneed to deliver information to be used against him in his own prosecution. Sneed, 2021 IL App (4th) 210180.


Rebecca K. Glenberg and Alexandra Block, American Civil Liberties Union, Chicago, IL; Brett M. Kaufman and Jennifer Stisa Granick, American Civil Liberties Union, New York, NY; Andrew Crocker, Electronic Frontier Foundation, San Francisco, CA; William Wolf, Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Chicago, IL; Jonathan Brayman, NACDL, Chicago, IL.

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