People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
LEGAL BRIEFS: Cell Phone Searches Require Warrants; No Fly Zone List Violates Due Process
Two court decisions at different levels have helped strengthen civil liberties in this country. In late June, the US Supreme Court held unanimously that police need warrants to search the cell phones of people they arrest. While not specifically mentioned, this decision will likely apply to searches of tablets and laptop computers. The Chief Justice stated "The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information [which used to be stored in an office or home] does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the founders fought," referencing the general warrants that allowed British officers to rummage through colonists' homes. The police may search a phone for a razor blade that could be used as a weapon. They may not look at the information on that phone without a search warrant, unless there are what is called exigent circumstances--the possibility that information may be destroyed (New York Times, June 25).
Also in late June, Oregon US District Judge Anna Brown found that the current appeals process regarding the "no-fly list" is "wholly ineffective" and violates the right of due process (Oregonian, June 24). Thirteen people, including Sheikh Mohamed Kariye from Portland, brought suit against the government. Brown ordered the government to come up with a new way to contest the ban. Being on the no fly list puts people in a nightmarish position. They are neither told they are on the list nor if they find themselves on it, why they are.
The Judge maintained the government can prepare unclassified summaries of the reasons for people's inclusion on the list or share information with an attorney that has the right level of government clearance. People on this list must also be given the chance to submit information to contest the findings. While this decision only applies to those who sued, it sends a broader message to the government about protecting people's rights.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.