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Search Warrants, Cell Phones and Particularity

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by: Ryan Scott • October 25, 2017 • no comments

A murder conviction was reversed last week, on the grounds that the search warrant for the cell phone was overbroad. State v. Allen.

Allen relied on the Court of Appeals opinion, State v. Mansor. Mansor is currently under advisement at the Oregon Supreme Court.

For an overview of the issue by an assistant district attorney, see this very new New York Law Journal article on the topic. It's useful if you're looking for out-of-Oregon opinions on the topic.

Its somewhat bland conclusion:

Given the advances in technology and the centrality of computers in the everyday lives of most people, computer searches have come under increased judicial scrutiny. The particularity clause of the Fourth Amendment has been asserted by the defense with new vigor in the context of digital raids authorized by search warrants. For the most part, though, courts continue to uphold reasonable specificity in particularity of the items to be seized that gives sufficient guidance to executing officers, and leaves them little discretion. Nevertheless, it is certain that this area of the law will continue to be scrutinized by the courts, and evolve in light of technological developments.