Contributed by Jeremy Rix, Warwick, Rhode Island, 3L Roger Williams University Law School
The modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence surrounding warrantless searches of text messaging is varied and evolving, including issues currently facing Rhode Island and the rest of the nation. My paper focused primarily upon comparing the reasoning of the Rhode Island Supreme Court in State v. Patino to that of the United States Supreme Court in California v. Riley (the seminal case on warrantless searches).
In addition, the paper discusses the wide-ranging implications of privacy in text messages with a focus on current events in Rhode Island. Such concerns include incidents of police misconduct, such as the assault and battery of John Prince as detailed here by Samuel Esther Adler-Bell. The versatility of text messages and other online communications may invoke statutory (e.g. HIPAA) as well as Constitutional rights. See, e.g., Rhode Island House Bills 15-5177, 15-5597 (allowing health insurance billing for services conducted via telemedicine).