Appealed from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (June 18, 2008)
Oral argument: Apr.19, 2010
FOURTH AMENDMENT, STORED COMMUNICATIONS ACT, PRIVACY
Officer Jeff Quon, a City of Ontario, California SWAT team member, was given a pager by his Department for communication. Although Quon was told that the pager communications were not private, a supervisor allowed Quon to use the pager for personal use so long as Quon reimbursed the department for overage charges, which Quon did. After determining the current payment system was not efficient, the Department ordered a review of the content of the text messages, ostensibly for the purpose of determining how many of the text messages were for business purposes. The search revealed Quon had sent personal messages to friends, as well as sexually explicit texts to both his wife and mistress. Quon sued the City of Ontario for violating his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Ontario, but the Ninth Circuit reversed and granted summary judgment in favor of Quon. The Ninth Circuit found the search to be unreasonable in light of Quon’s legitimate expectation of privacy. The Supreme Court will address a government worker’s Fourth Amendment rights, while also potentially addressing the Constitutional protection afforded to newer forms of communication, such as text messages.