Court throws out conviction over cell phone search by Jacksonville police

The Florida Supreme Court has thrown out the armed-robbery conviction and 50-year prison sentence of Cedric Tyrone Smallwood after ruling that Jacksonville police illegally looked at photos on his cell phone.

The case, decided by a 5-2 vote, has statewide implications because the court ruled that police cannot look at information on a cell phone without getting a search warrant first.

“It’s a huge decision,” said Rod Sullivan, a professor of constitutional law at Florida Coastal School of Law. “Police have been looking through the cell phones of people they arrest for years.”