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City's Review of Police Officer's Text Messages Upheld

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By FindLaw Staff on June 17, 2010 10:23 PM

City of Ontario v. Quon, No. 08-1332, involved an action by police officers against the city employing them, claiming that defendants violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) by obtaining and reviewing the transcript of plaintiff-officer's pager messages.  The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's reversal of summary judgment for defendants, holding that, because the city's search of plaintiff's text messages was reasonable, defendants did not violate plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights.

As the Court wrote:  "This case involves the assertion by a government employer of the right, in circumstances to be described, to read text messages sent and received on a pager the employer owned and issued to an employee. The employee contends that the privacy of the messages is protected by the ban on "unreasonable searches and seizures" found in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, made applicable to the States by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U. S. 643 (1961). Though the case touches issues of far-reaching significance, the Court concludes it can be resolved by settled principles determining when a search is reasonable."

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