S.D.Ga.: Def was a passenger in a car and his cell phone was seized and subjected to search with a warrant; the seizure was lawful

Defendant challenged only the seizure of his cell phone from a car he was a passenger in, and not its later search with a warrant. The search warrant makes all the difference, even assuming he had standing, which he likely didn’t. United States v. Ray, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182823 (S.D. Ga. Oct. 3, 2019):

The D.C. Circuit has provided a valuable précis of the conceptual framework in examining whether the seizure of document boxes from a vehicle, which the driver did not own but had permission to use, violated the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Miller, 799 F.3d 1097, 1101, 419 U.S. App. D.C. 63 (D.C. Cir. 2015). Notably, after the boxes were seized, agents refrained from examining their contents until they obtained a search warrant. Id. The court noted three “distinct events … that could conceivably raise a Fourth Amendment question,” the search of the vehicle transporting the boxes, the seizure of the boxes, and the search of the boxes. Id. The defendant only challenged the seizure of the boxes. Similarly, here, Ray challenges the seizure of the phone, but not the warranted search or discovery of its contents. See id. (noting that the defendant “raises no challenge to the search of the boxes. … And for good reason: agents searched the boxes only after obtaining a search warrant.”).

The D.C. Circuit’s explanation is illuminating, and worth quoting in full. …

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