July 3

Search Warrant Required to Search Mobile Phones

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Riley v. California, ruled that the police must first obtain a warrant before searching a mobile phone seized during the arrest of a suspect. The court left open the possibility that the police might lawfully examine the data on a phone in an emergency situation on a case-by-case basis (exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement). The decision left unresolved the legality of the police use of technology such as “Stringray,” that allows the police to intercept cell phone signals by masquerading as a cell phone tower — an International Mobile Subscriber Identity locator, or “IMSI catcher.” A Wall Street Journal article has an explanation of the device.

June 4

USSC Considering Retroactivity of 2014 Drug Guidelines Amendment

On April 30, 2014, the United States Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress an amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines that would revise the guidelines applicable to drug trafficking offenses by changing the base offense levels in the Drug Quantity Table in section 2D1.1 of the Guidelines Manual. The commission has released a report analyzing the impact of the guideline amendment if made retroactive. It has also released a report of the Recidivism Among Offenders Receiving Retroactive Sentence Reductions: The 2007 Crack Cocaine Amendment.

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