Riley v. California

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.

Brief filed: 03/10/2014


Riley v. California

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 13-132

Prior Decision

Decision below People v. Riley, No. D059840, 2013 BL 34220, 2013 ILRC 1385 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. Feb. 08, 2013).


Mobile computing devices like the modern smartphone are unique. The capacity of mobile computing devices renders analogies to physical containers inapplicable. Mobile devices have been incorporated into modern living in a fundamentally private and personal way. The smartphone is the new instrument of First Amendment expression. The warrantless search of a smartphone incident to arrest is not justified under the search incident to arrest doctrine. Neither of the Chimel rationales is present with respect to the warrantless search of a cellphone. Permitting a warrantless search of a smartphone, but limiting it to evidence relating to the crime of arrest is unworkable. Cellphone data necessitates the protections of the warrant requirement. Technology has removed impediments to securing a warrant. A warrant is the only effective mechanism for managing governmental collection of cellphone data.

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Bronson D. James, Bronson James LLC, Portland, OR; Michael W. Price, Brennan Center for Justice, New York, NY.