American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 50, Issue 4 (2014)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


As in the past few years, most of the action in the Supreme Court’s 2013-2014 Term was on the civil side of the docket. On the criminal side, the undisputed blockbuster was Riley v. California,1 a seminal ruling about searches of cell phones incident to arrest. Riley is significant for several reasons, not the least of which is that it displays the justices’ understanding of new technologies (at last!) and their recognition that cases involving today’s technologies are difficult to decide by simple reference to the brick-and-mortar world. This article starts with Riley and other Fourth Amendment decisions then moves to the Court’s Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment rulings and to a smattering of federal criminal and habeas cases. It concludes with a brief preview of the 2014-2015 Term.


The Court issued an interesting assortment of Fourth Amendment rulings last Term. Riley was the most significant holding, though there were also important opinions addressing traffic stops and anonymous tips, warrantless entries into the home, and the use of deadly force during high-speed chases.