RI Text Message Ruling Fuels Police Surveillance Debate

By Allison Grande (September 6, 2012, 10:14 PM EDT) -- A Rhode Island state judge ruled Tuesday that law enforcement cannot access the contents of private text messages without a warrant because individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in these communications, a holding that could significantly influence the unresolved debate at both the state and federal levels over the use of warrantless electronic surveillance.

In a 190-page decision on issues of first impression in the state, Superior Court Associate Justice Judith Savage granted defendant Michael Patino's motion to suppress most of the evidence — including text messages, phone records and communications, as well as an alleged confession — that police...

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