This year’s problem features a
petitioner who was taken into custody for possession of narcotics.
A search was conducted by the arresting officer who found cash, a phone,
and a cigarette package on petitioner’s person and a bag and a
laptop in petitioner’s vehicle.
At the station, the officer completed a record of booking and asked the
petitioner routine booking questions regarding the items found in the
search. One routine booking question asked the petitioner
who the phone belonged to. The petitioner responded, "I do."
At the conclusion of the booking procedure, the officer read the
petitioner his Miranda rights.
The police obtained a search warrant to inspect the laptop that was
recovered from petitioner’s vehicle. The inspection
uncovered a file that was protected by a sophisticated software
protection program. The police were unable to gain access to
this file. The government issued a subpoena deuce tecum on the
petitioner to produce wholly unencrypted version of the file.
The petitioner filed a motion to suppress the statement made in response
to the booking question regarding ownership of the phone as an
incriminating statement elicited prior to Miranda warnings. The
petitioner filed a motion to quash the subpoena for decrypted documents
from the laptop for violating petitioner’s Fifth Amendment right
The trial court denied petitioner’s motion to suppress the
statements made during the booking process because the
government’s administrative purpose of record-keeping is a
legitimate reason for asking whether property belongs to a
suspect. The trial court denied petitioner’s motion to quash
the subpoena because the court believed the contents of the computer
file were a foregone conclusion, and not testimonial in nature.
The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision. The
petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which was granted by
the Supreme Court of the United States for the following questions:
(1) Whether the "routine booking" exception to Miranda applies to
questions about a suspect’s property during the booking
(2) Whether a suspect compelled to provide unencrypted data can invoke
the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.