Recently in Searches and Seizures Category

August 25, 2014

Appeals Court Affirms Suppression of Firearm Seized During Warrantless Search of Vehicle

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently upheld a superior court ruling allowing a motion to suppress a firearm seized after a warrantless search of a backpack following an investigatory stop of a motor vehicle.

In Commonwealth v. Rutledge, two defendants were charged, among other things, with numerous firearms offenses. The arrest was made on July 13, 2011 after a 911 operator in Brockton received a call from a woman who overheard an argument between her current boyfriend and former boyfriend, when the former boyfriend allegedly pulled a gun on the current boyfriend, threatening to kill him.

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May 12, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Constitutionality of Searches of Arrestees' Cell Phones

On April 29, 2014, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two criminal cases that have asked the Court to determine whether searching a person's cell phone at the time he is arrested is a proper "search incident to arrest," or an unreasonable search that infringes on the arrestee's rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. One of those cases - U.S. v. Wurie - is on appeal from the First Circuit in Massachusetts.

In Wurie, the police arrested the defendant in connection with a drug deal. Among other items that were on the defendant at the time of the arrest, the police seize two cell phones from him. After they were seized, the police observed that one of the cell phones repeatedly received phone calls from a number identified as "my house" on the external caller ID screen. A few minutes later, one police officer opened the cell phone and looked at the defendant's call log. In doing so, the officer observed a photograph of a woman holding a baby, which was set as the phone's wallpaper. The officer then navigated the cell phone to determine what phone number was associated with the calls from "my house."

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