A Florida judge for the 13th circuit, judge Gregory P. Holder, a law professor at the University of Phoenix, perhaps handed down a cruel and unusual sentence for ordering a man who refused to turn over his cell phone password to serve 60 days in jail.
That is, unless he hands it over.
“Basically, my client has been deprived liberty today without due process,” Patrick Leduc, an attorney representing William Montanez.
Montanez was arrested for possessing a few grams of weed during a traffic stop.
He refused to allow an officer to search his vehicle for drugs after he was pulled over for improperly yielding.
A drug dog was brought in.
A small amount of marijuana was found in his vehicle and cops asked to search his cell phone.
Montanez wouldn’t allow police to search his car.
Montanez refused and detectives got a warrant.
Leduc says cops are on a fishing expedition, which brings us the case to a constitutional challenge.
“There is no information that the state can show, until I can challenge the warrant itself, that says, ‘Hey, what’s on these two cell phones are directly related to a possession of misdemeanor marijuana,’” Leduc explained.
Tony Falcone, a prosecutor countered the argument, saying the warrant is lawful.
“I think it’s appropriate the court order the defendant to show cause.”
After just minutes of arguments, judge Holder ruled officers could go through both of Montanez’s cell phones.
However, when the phones were brought out from the evidence bag, Montanez said he could remember the password since he’d just bought the phones.
“I don’t know the code, sir,” he tells judge Holder.
Judge Holder then requests Montanez unlock his second cell phone, but he gave the same answer.
Judge Holder found Montanez in contempt of court and threw him in jail for 60 days.
Leduc says what happened to his client could happen to any of us.
“If they arrest you for anything — whether it’s drugs, guns, you name it — and an electronic device is nearby, they can get a search warrant and search it. And if you don’t provide that information to search it, to unlock, because you want to keep the information private, we’ll put you in jail,” he told Fox13.
After jailing Montanez, Judge Holder said he would be released if he suddenly remembers his password.
According to public records, the telephone number to judge Holder’s 13 circuit court is (813) 272-5894.