The content within our Public Data Assistants, also known as our cell phones,
have become a more prominent part of legal litigation as social networking
continues to grow and as humans continue to grow more reliant on cellular
devices as means of information, entertainment, and communication. Research
now suggests that the use of cellular wireless devices may be just as
important as the various things that can be found on them. Below is an example.
A claimant seeks damages, stating that he has suffered reduced cognitive
function after an accident. However, his cell phone interaction may reveal
information to refute his claim or otherwise strengthen it.
Similarly, a personal injury lawyer may want to discover cell phone activity
to demonstrate a driver’s inattention to the road while investigating
a negligent driving case. Likewise, an employment lawyer may be interested
in how their opponents interact with cell phones while at work. This list
Of course, this now raises the question of whether or not legal counsel
should be granted access to inspect and mine information from a cellphone
itself. Before, the courts of Florida denied unrestricted access to such
information without proof that the opponent was hiding information or
failed to cooperate. However, this may not be the case with cell phones,
where the focus of the analyses and requests are much different.
In a recent United States Supreme Court case,
Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014), one decision discussed how cellular devices may play an important role
in our lives. In summary, the court suggested that cell phones have the
ability to sum up a person’s private life, which can be “reconstructed
through a thousand photographs labeled with dates, locations, and descriptions.”
In short, the decision regarding whether or not PDA’s should be accessible
in an investigation remains complex. Florida case law states that there
is no “one size fits all” in regards to cell phone discovery
and that in several specific circumstances, cell phone investigations
are available and may be pursued.