W.D.Tex.: Border search cursory search of defendant’s cell phone was reasonable

A border search cursory search of defendant’s cell phone was reasonable, even under Cotterman. They also had more than reasonable suspicion. United States v. Escarcega, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185466 (W.D. Tex. July 29, 2015):

These facts contrast heavily with the ones at hand. Here, Defendant’s cell phone was searched briefly, just as the initial search of the laptop in Cotterman. However, unlike Cotterman, here, evidence of Defendant’s involvement in criminal activity was discovered during the cursory search and Special Agent Werner then obtained a search warrant to conduct a further search. Even if this Court adhered to Ninth Circuit precedent, which is certainly not binding, Cotterman would support this Court’s decision to uphold the search of the cell phone because the Ninth Circuit conceded that the initial search of Cotterman’s laptop was valid under the “border search exception.” See Cotterman, 709 F.3d at 960-61. It was the warrantless forensic examination of the laptop that exceeded the limitations of the “border search exception” and with which the Ninth Circuit disapproved. Id. And while having reasonable suspicion and probable cause are not requirements to initiate a border stop and search, both were present here. …

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