In 2009, David Leon Riley was charged due to gang-related video found on his cell phone during the search upon arrest. He argued that police’s warrantless search on his cell phone has violated his Fourth Amendment rights. However, the State of California affirmed the judgment.
In the background of Riley’s case, our group conducted a survey to understand UC Davis students’ thoughts about police searching on cell phones upon arrest. Eventually, among the 50 persons surveyed, about half of them think the police do not have rights to search cell phones upon arrest, while the rest think the police do have the rights. Moreover, when asked whether a person should be charged for attempted murder based on the contents in their cell phones, about half of the people surveyed said no, while the other half said yes. Furthermore, about half of the people surveyed think it is more important to keep someone in jail than keep things in cell phones private. However, half of people surveyed think the person should be charged do not think it is more important to put the person in jail.
In order to further understand how the people think about search upon arrest, I read two articles: Brief for Petitioner and Brief for Respondent. These briefs summarized two opposite arguments of the petitioner and respondent in Riley’s case. In Brief for Petitioner, David Leon Riley argued that the police have no rights to search his cell phone on arrest. However, in Brief for Respondent, the Court consist the police have the rights to search Riley’s cell phone upon arrest. In order to persuade each other, Riley supported his argument with examples of pathos and logos, while the Court supported its argument with examples of logos.
In order to convince the Court that the police do not have rights to search his cell phone, David Leon Riley support his argument with examples of pathos. When arguing that the warrantless search of digital contents in smart phones violates Fourth Amendment, Riley mentioned, “[u]nlike physical items inside of a container, the digital contents of [my] smart phone are categorically incapable of threatening officer safety” (Pet. Brief 10). By mentioning the incapability of the digital contents in his cell phone, Riley revealed and emphasized the fear of officers on the officer safety. He revealed the public fear of officer safety, but then released the stress derived from fear of officer safety by saying “[contents in] cell phone are categorically incapable of threatening officer safety” (Pet. Brief 10). And also, Our survey confirmed the public fear of safety. In our survey, about half of people investigated, prefer a person to be charged for attempted murder. And, About 50 percent is a significant high level for people surveyed thinking one should be charged for attempted murder.
In the brief, Riley also revealed the police’s fear of the arrestee’s destroying digital contents. He stated, “... once the police have seized and secured a...