E. Supp.

The Search for a Limited Search: The First Circuit Denies the Search of Cell Phones Incident to Arrest in United States v. Wurie

Abstract: On May 17, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in United States v. Wurie held that the warrantless search of a cell phone was not justified by the search-incident-to-arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment and was thus an illegal search. In doing so, the court declined to agree with other federal appeals court solutions regarding this issue; most notably, the Fifth Circuit’s 2007 decision in United States v. Finley and the Seventh Circuit’s 2012 decision in United States v. Flores-Lopez. This Comment argues that the approaches taken by courts on both sides of the issue have severe vulnerabilities. It also posits that, on review, the U.S. Supreme Court should adopt a test that limits the police search to information that can be found on the phone without accessing the internet. By drawing a line regarding the searchable information in a phone, this test provides a more effective method of balancing the various concerns this issue raises.

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