Saturday, November 14, 2015

No good-faith exception for illegal cell phone searches

Timothy J. Grillot won in State v. Jones, No. 113,397 (Kan. App. Oct. 23, 2015)(unpublished), affirming Judge Fleming's suppression order in a Labette County prosecution. The state conceded that a cell-phone search was illegal pursuant to Riley v. California, but argued that the evidence obtained as a result should still be admitted under the good-faith exception. The COA noted that there was only one federal court case and one non-final Kansas COA case upholding cell-phone searches incident to arrest. As a result, the COA agreed with Judge Fleming that the good-faith exception did not apply:
On the facts presented in the defendant's motion to suppress evidence (and not challenged through evidence by the State), Jones was a passenger in a car involved in a brief police chase, and officers arrested him when he got out of the car. An officer then found cash in Jones' pants pocket and searched data on Jones' cell phone to see whether the cash might be tied to illegal activity. The officer had no warrant, and the State presented no testimony or argument that the officer needed to examine any data on the cell phone to protect anyone's safety. On these facts, the district court properly granted the defendant's motion.
[Update: the state did not file a PR and the mandate issued on December 28, 2015.]

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