A Book from the Library of Defense

Oregon Supreme Court, January 28, 2021

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by: Rankin Johnson • January 29, 2021 • no comments


Summarized by Rankin Johnson, OCDLA

DEFENDANT'S STATEMENTS - Statements which may be compelled

Trial court's order that defendant unlock phone violated Article I, section 12. Reversed.

The court followed Fifth Amendment precedent in holding that the compelled communication of information, rather than the compelled use of the mind, was forbidden by Article I, section 12. The trial court's order that defendant unlock the phone violated Article I, section 12, because compliance would have communicated that defendant knew the passcode.

The court held, however, that a criminal defendant could be compelled to unlock a cell phone if the state had a warrant, already knew the information that unlocking the phone would reveal directly (such as the ownership of the phone) and could not use defendant's act of unlocking as evidence. In order to obtain such a warrant, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it knows the information that defendant's act would communicate.

State v. Pittman 367 Or 498 (January 28, 2021) (Walters) (Marion County, Prall)