Submitted: September 7, 2018
Defendant's Motion to Suppress GRANTED
Hume, IV, Esquire (argued), and Caroline C. Brittingham,
Esquire, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Georgetown, Delaware, for the
J. Maurer, Jr., Esquire, Elise Kristin Wolpert, Esquire
(argued), and Christina L. Ruggiero, Esquire, EUGENE J.
MAURER, JR., P.A., Wilmington, Delaware, for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Eason Primos, Judge.
matter is before the Court on the motion to suppress of
Defendant Carl Rone (hereinafter "Defendant").
Defendant challenges the validity of a warrantless search of
his cell site location information (hereinafter
"CSLI"), which Delaware State Police sought and
acquired pursuant to Delaware's wiretap statute, 11
Del. C. § 2401 et seq. (hereinafter
the "Wiretap Statute"). Defendant seeks suppression
of CSLI gained by the search of his cell phone records. The
facts cited herein are as found by the Court by a
preponderance of the evidence following consideration of the
parties' written submissions and their arguments at the
hearing on September 7, 2018.
worked for many years as a firearms examiner for the Delaware
State Police. Discrepancies between Defendant's submitted
time sheets, his physical presence at the office, and other
work documents were noted by one of his coworkers, who
reported these facts to law enforcement. On January 31, 2018,
the Delaware State Police, who suspected Defendant of
submitting false time sheets, applied for an order from this
Court to obtain the CSLI for a cell phone owned by Defendant
(hereinafter the "Phone"). The application sought
disclosure of records related to the use of the Phone,
including historical call detail records with CSLI, for the
timeframe of January 1, 2016, to January 18, 2018. To compel
disclosure of cell phone records under the Wiretap Statute,
law enforcement had to demonstrate that there was
"reason to believe" that the records sought were
"relevant to a legitimate law-enforcement
inquiry." This Court signed that order the same day,
and copies of the relevant data were turned over to the
Delaware State Police by the Phone's service provider.
ARGUMENTS OF THE PARTIES
filed the instant motion to suppress on July 30, 2018,
arguing that the compelled disclosure of his CSLI constituted
a search and that the search was not made pursuant to warrant
or a warrant exception, thus violating Defendant's rights
under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United
States Constitution and Article I, § 6 of the Delaware
State agrees that the compelled disclosure of the CSLI
constituted a search but argues that the application,
affidavit, and order (collectively the
"Application"), although not styled as a warrant,
comport with the requirements for a search warrant.
Additionally, the State contends that the CSLI would have
been inevitably discovered, and in fact will be discovered a
second time through a search warrant obtained on August 20,
burden is on the State to justify a warrantless search or
seizure. In a suppression hearing, the Court sits
as the finder of fact and evaluates the credibility of the
witnesses. The party with whom the burden rests must
persuade the Court by a preponderance of the
The Carpenter decision applies to this
well-settled Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, government
searches must generally be undertaken pursuant to warrants
supported by probable cause or under circumstances falling
within a specific exception to the warrant
requirement.The Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution mandates that "no Warrants shall issue, but
upon probable cause." Similarly, the Delaware Code
permits a judicial officer to issue a warrant only if he or
she finds "that the facts recited in the complaint
constitute probable cause for the search."
United States Supreme Court recently held in Carpenter v.
United States that citizens have a legitimate
expectation of privacy in the records of their physical
movements as captured through CSLI. In Carpenter,
prosecutors applied for an order under the Stored
Communications Act (hereinafter the "SCA") to
acquire the defendant's cell phone records, including
historical CSLI, for a seven-day period and a 127-day
period." The Carpenter court found that
the compelled disclosure of the defendant's CSLI
constituted "a search within the meaning of the ...