State of Washington v. Roden

This court case is completed

This case raised questions about the extent to which the police can use a cell phone obtained during a lawful arrest. Here, the police first looked through texts received by the phone, and then participated in a text conversation (impersonating the phone’s owner), tricking the defendant into expressing interest in drug transactions and then arresting him. The defendant argued that those actions violated the Privacy Act (RCW 9.73), which prohibits the interception of communications. On February 27, 2014, the Washington Supreme Court agreed with the position argued by the ACLU amicus brief, holding that a text message is not delivered until seen by the intended recipient—not the device, but the actual person. Therefore, the defendant’s messages intended for the dealer were improperly intercepted by the police.