Warrantless Search of Sex Offender’s Mobile Phone OK

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By Jordan S. Rubin

The warrantless search of a sex offender’s mobile phone at a supervised release facility was constitutional, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held Aug. 10 ( United States v. Jackson , 2017 BL 279348, 8th Cir., No. 16-3807, 8/10/17 ).

Rejecting Richard Jackson’s Fourth Amendment challenge, Judge Steven M. Colloton’s opinion cited Samson v. California, in which the U.S. Supreme Court approved the warrantless search of a parolee.

“Like the parolee in Samson, Jackson was on clear notice that he was subject to the suspicionless search at issue,” the circuit court said here.

In 2015, Jackson was on supervised release at an Iowa correctional reentry facility. The facility banned mobile phones but he had one anyway.

Jackson’s probation officer searched his phone without a warrant and saw a website that apparently depicted underage females. The government later secured a warrant to search the phone and found thirty-seven images of child pornography.

The warrantless search was legal, the circuit court said. Jackson didn’t have an expectation of privacy in his phone that society would recognize as legitimate, and the government had substantial interests that justified the search, it said.

Colloton’s opinion was joined by Judges Duane Benton and John M. Gerrard, sitting by designation from the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jordan S. Rubin in Washington at jrubin@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bna.com

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