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Lannom Williams Law Group - Providing criminal defense and civil trial practice for Wilson County, Tennessee

137 Public Square
Lebanon, TN 37087
615.444.2900
FAX (615) 444-6516
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Freedom Wins in the U.S. Supreme Court!

        What's on your cell phone and whose business is it? 

       The huge rise in the number of smart phones and the personal information contained on them has grown exponentially over the past 10 years. The Government has (predictably) used the ability to carry our personal information in our hand as a way to invade our privacy by searching indiscriminately any aspect of our life they desire. Law enforcement had adopted a policy that, if you were arrested for any crime such as possessing one marijuana joint, DUI or any criminal offense, they have the right to search anything on your phone without obtaining a search warrant. I have seen the police keep a citizen’s phone for weeks, and even months, perusing them at their leisure without judicial authorization.

        Our Constitution, bought and paid for with the blood of patriots, has long held that a warrantless search is presumed unlawful and that a government search requires obtaining a judicial warrant, unless there is a specific exception to the warrant requirement. This requirement has been routinely ignored for many years by law enforcement both on the federal level and in Tennessee.   

        In the case of Riley vs. California, the United States Supreme Court has now held that law enforcement must get a search warrant before searching the content of your phone, unless the narrow and specific exceptions to the search warrant requirement are found. Bi-partisan appointed Justices formed an alliance to reign in this invasive practice of law enforcement.  In holding that  search war-rant requirements are an important part of how our government operates, the Justices stated "that the warrant requirement is more than an inconvenience to somehow be weighed against the claims of police inefficiency". In short, freedom and the Constitution matter more than the police enforcing one more law. The Court recognized  that  almost every aspect of a citizen’s personal life is located on their cell phone  from internet browsing history, apps for political parties, pregnancy charting, aspects of romantic life, religious beliefs including the bible or religious literature one reads, medications, banking information and list goes on . . . If the Supreme Court had not held the police to the high standard of the Constitution, all the personal information aforementioned would still be subject to police browsing without a warrant. 

       The Court also shut down law enforcement  and the Government’s argument that searching cell phones without a warrant was no big deal - that it was the same as searching your pockets or a book you had on your person. The same government, who refuses to turn over emails, donor's lists, and timing of their phone calls related to government affairs, felt every aspect of your life was fair game for their search. The Court also dispelled other emotionally charged arguments, such as a terrorist plot could be foiled or a child abductor’s phone might hold the location of child, by pointing out that emergency exceptions have always existed when there is a reason to believe that disaster is imminent or lives are in danger.     

     The Supreme Court, in adopting freedom over a police state, beautifully stated, "Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans "the privacies of life". The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand, does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to arrest is accordingly simple, get a warrant."



        I  can add  nothing to that  eloquent  defense of personal liberty except to point out that those who follow us on Facebook will recognize  “get a warrant!” as being at  the heart of some of my more passionate blogs and posts!

       This recognition of the importance of protecting our Constitutional Rights from over-reaching Government and law enforcement is encouraging, but we must be ever-vigilent because the Government does not give up easily - if ever!  

In Defense of the Citizen Accused,

Frank Lannom





LANNOM & WILLIAMS
137 Public Square Lebanon, TN 37087
Via Phone: (615) 444-2900 Via Facsimile: (615) 444-6516 Toll Free: (866) 820-4457

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