Michigan v. Hughes (Opinion on Application)Annotate this Case
Defendant Kristopher Hughes was convicted by jury of armed robbery, for which he was sentenced as a fourth-offense habitual offender and given 25 to 60 years in prison. In 2016, Ronald Stites and Lisa Weber were at Stites' home when Weber called a drug dealer to obtain drugs and deliver them to the residence. A man arrived, sold Stites and Weber crack cocaine, and left. Later that night, the seller returned to Stites’s home with a gun, and stole a safe from Stites’s bedroom. Weber later identified defendant as the drug dealer and robber; Stites was not able to identify the perpetrator. A detective submitted a warrant affidavit to search defendant’s property for evidence related to separate allegations of drug trafficking. The affidavit included information from a criminal informant that defendant and another man were dealing drugs, and the detective asserted that drug traffickers commonly used mobile phones and other electronic equipment in the course of their activities. The district court concluded there was sufficient probable cause to support a search warrant and authorized a warrant to search three properties and a vehicle connected with defendant. While executing a search at one of the addresses identified in the warrant, the police detained defendant and seized a cell phone found on his person. Another detective performed a forensic examination of the phone and extracted all of the phone’s data. About a month after the data was extracted, the prosecutor in the armed-robbery case asked for a second search of defendant’s cell-phone data. These searches revealed several calls and text messages between defendant and Weber on the night that Stites was robbed, including text messages from Weber to defendant indicating the location of Stites’s home, that the home was unlocked, and that it had a flat-screen TV. After his conviction, defendant appealed, arguing that the phone records should have been excluded from the trial because the warrant that authorized the search of his phone’s data permitted officers to search for evidence of drug trafficking, not armed robbery. Defendant also argued that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the admission of that data on Fourth Amendment grounds. Finding that the second search of defendant's phone was not reasonably directed at obtaining evidence regarding drug trafficking (the criminal activity alleged in the warrant), the Michigan Supreme Court concluded the search violated defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. The Court of Appeals judgment was reversed, and the matter remanded for further proceedings.