Judge Jails Man for 60 Days for Failing to Unlock his Cell Phone

Ben Keller

A cell phone password could be the key to a man's freedom after he was arrested for a few grams of weed.

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.

Comments (4)
No. 1-4

Full Disclosure: Judge Holder was my Business Law teacher when I went to college. That said: If the police have a warrant to search your home, that gives them the authority to break down the door. The owner is under NO OBLIGATION to unlock the door for them. So, a search warrant for the phone gives the police the authority to break into the phone: IMHO, the owner is under NO OBLIGATION to open it for them.


Conservative fools are everywhere. America is lost. Greed is the Goal. We don't need no stinking warrants.


What can you say about a Retarded Tyrant Judge who is going to look like a Shameful idiot down the road! I would like to be a fly in his office when the heat gets turned up on Judge Dumb Dumb Holder!


The right against self-incrimination (5th Amendment) is rooted in the Puritans' refusal to cooperate with interrogators in 17th century England. They were often coerced or even tortured into confessing their religious affiliation and were considered guilty if they remained silent. These same Puritans who fled religious persecution, brought this idea with them to America, where it would become (eventually) codified in the Bill of Rights. Apparently the courts of today have found the right against self-incrimination does not include electronic communicative evidence; nor any testimony given (or lack thereof) at any legal proceedings or police interrogations.

Citizen Journalism