Digital Evidence

In a long-awaited decision in Carpenter v. United States, the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Fourth Amendment requires the government to receive a warrant to obtain cell-site location information (CSLI).

In the Court’s majority opinion Chief Justice Roberts provides an explanation of how CSLI works. “Cell phones continuously scan their environment looking for the best signal, which generally comes from the closest cell site. Most modern devices, such as smartphones, tap into the wireless network several times a minute whenever their signal is on, even if the owner is not using one of the phone’s features. Each time the phone connects to a cell site, it generates a time-stamped record known as cell-site location information (CSLI).”

CSG Midwest
According to the Urban Institute (which tracks state laws on body cameras), all states in the Midwest exempt body camera footage from Freedom of Information Act requests. And over the past three years, legislatures in at least seven Midwestern states — IllinoisIndianaKansasMichiganMinnesotaNebraska and North Dakota — have passed laws that set guidelines on police use of body cameras and/or public access to the recordings.

In the wake of several high-profile incidents involving the injury or death of citizens during altercations with law enforcement, questions surrounding police misconduct and use of force have grown in recent years. Increasingly, policymakers and the American public alike are looking to and calling for the use of body cameras by law enforcement officers in an effort to increase transparency in police-civilian interactions. Who, though, should have access to footage recorded on police body cameras?

During a recent webcast presented by The Council of State Governments in collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, experts discussed vehicle telematics technology and its impact on the insurance industry.

Warrantless searches of cellphones?  Simple question.  Simple answer.  No (generally).  

In Riley v. California the Supreme Court held unanimously that generally police must first obtain a warrant before searching an arrested person’s cellphone.

Police searched David Riley’s cell phone after he was arrested on gun charges and found evidence of gang activity.  In a second case, police arrested Brima Wurie for selling drugs and used his cell phone to figure out where he lived—where they found more drugs and guns.    

The Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant before they conduct a search unless an exception applies.  The exception at issue in this case is a search incident to a lawful arrest.