The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has succeeded in convincing the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts for Suffolk County to allow an interlocutory appeal to review the denial of a motion to suppress evidence seized from a defendant through an unlawful and warrantless search of a cell phone. The case originated from the Boston Municipal Court, East Boston Division. The SJC Docket No. is SJ-2012-0144.
At issue is whether the police acted improperly by searching the defendant’s cellular telephone without a search warrant after seizing it pursuant to a lawful arrest while the defendant was in custody back at the police station. Although the lower court denied the motion to suppress of the alleged cell phone evidence that the police said tied the defendant to the crime, in his decision, the judge at the motion hearing recognized that neither the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts nor the Massachusetts Appeals Court have addressed the issue of a warrantless search of a cell phone after the defendant is in custody.
Unfortunately, there is conflicting case law among the federal circuits. Attorney Patrick Murphy is urging the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to uphold the protections of the Fourth Amendment and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights to require that the police show deference to the warrant requirement before such a search should take place.