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Text Messages Get 4th Amendment in Rhode Island

In a whopping 190 page opinion, a judge in Rhode Island has ruled that the 4th Amendment protects against warrantless seizures of text messages.

The case is State v. Pantino and the full opinion is here. Text messages weren't all the judge tossed, citing a "tsunami of illegal evidence". EFF and law Prof Orrin Kerr participated in the case and the judge especially credits Kerr's analysis: [More...]

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O'Mara Releases 6 Jail Calls, Seeks Reconsideration For Remainder

Update: I've uploaded the transcripts and bank records here.

Mark O-Mara, attorney for George Zimmerman, has posted the full audiotapes of the six jail calls between Zimmerman and his wife on the website he maintains for the case.

He has also filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider its previous order and keep the remaining jail calls and a statement of W-9 private. W-9 will not be a witness for either party and her statement, which is inflammatory, is not admissible. The state has released the credit union bank records and transcripts of the six calls. I assume the media will publish these.

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Great Britain High Court Okays Assange Extradition

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost his appeal on extradition to Sweden. The British Supreme Court says he can be extradited to face charges there.

In a 5-2 vote, the British Supreme Court upheld the validity of an arrest warrant made by a Swedish prosecutor to question Assange over accusations by two Swedish women that he sexually assaulted them.

The ruling is here. The Court's press summary is here [More...]

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No Immunity for Strauss-Kahn in Civil Suit

A judge in New York has refused to dismiss the civil lawsuit filed against Dominique Strauss-Kahn by Nafissatou Diallo, the housekeeper at the Sofitel who alleges he sexually assaulted her. Strauss-Kahn raised the defense of diplomatic immunity.

In his decision, Justice McKeon quoted from a monetary fund document advising its officials that they enjoy immunity from the judicial process only in respect to their official duties.

The judge added that even that limited immunity expired with Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s resignation. The decision also noted that Mr. Strauss-Kahn chose not to raise immunity during his criminal proceedings because he wanted to clear his name.

Prediction: This case will now settle for an undisclosed sum of money. [More...]

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Colo Appeals Court: No Medical Marijuana While On Probation

The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled persons on probation may not use marijuana, even if they have a valid state license to do so. The opinion is here.

The Court based its decision on federal law which it says outlaws possession and use of marijuana. (Actually, federal law only bans possession, not use of a controlled substance but no one seems to raise creative ways one could use marijuana without actually or constructively possessing it.)[More...]

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9th Circuit Affirms Unconsitutionality of Prop 8

Update: The 9th Circuit has affirmed the lower court's ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. The 128 page opinion is here.

The 2-1 decision found the ban -- known as Proposition 8 -- "served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." That violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law, the decision states

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PA AG Seeks Exclusion of Centre County Jurors for Sandusky

The Pennsylvania Attorney General has asked the court to empanel jurors from outside Centre County for the Jerry Sandusky trial. It says, in addition to pre-trial publicity, the Penn State Community and Centre County are "philosophically and economically” intertwined."

Sandusky's lawyer says he will fight the motion.

“Jerry’s case has drawn national attention, as a result of which we feel there’s no better place than Centre County from which to select fair-minded individuals to sit as jurors in Jerry’s case,” Amendola said. “We will vehemently oppose the commonwealth’s motion for a change of venire.”

In other words, the state wants to keep the trial in Centre County, but import jurors from other counties to decide the case. The judge will decide on Feb. 8.

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Supreme Court Rules GPS Monitoring Requires Warrant

Good news today. The Supreme Court has ruled in the case of Antoine Jones that GPS monitoring requires a warrant. While there were concurring opinions, the justices were unanimous in the decision, which you can read here. The issue:

Whether the attachment of a GlobalPositioning-System (GPS) tracking device to an individual’s vehicle, and subsequent use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements on public streets, constitutes a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.


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10th Circuit Blocks Oklahama Ban on Sharia Law

Voters in Oklahoma approved a ban of Sharia law that said:

State courts "shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations sued.

Today, the 10th Circuit blocked the law from taking effect. The opinion is here. [More...]

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9th Circuit Allows Wiretap Suit Against NSA to Proceed

While the 9th Circuit upheld the consitittuionality of telecom immunity for warrantless wiretapping in one case today, in another case, it ruled a complaint against the NSA and Government officials for conducting "a communications dragnet of ordinary citizens" can proceed. The case is Jewell vs. NSA, and the opinion is here.

The complaint by plaintiff Carolyn Jewell and others (the case is a potential class action) alleges that the NSA attached surveillance devices to AT&T's network, diverting communications into "SG3 Secure Rooms" at AT&T facilities around the country, creating "an unprecedented suspicionless general search" throughout the AT&T network. The suit alleged the NSA and other government defendants performed or aided and abetted the scheme. (AT&T was not sued in the case.)

The district court had dismissed the case holding the plaintiffs didn't have standing to challenge the scheme, but the 9th Circuit disagreed and reversed. [More...]

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9th Circuit Upholds Telecom Immunity Under FISA in NSA Lawsuit

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld the constitutionality of FISA's grant of immunity to telecom companies assisting the Government in terrorism investigations. The opinion is here.

The statute is § 802 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”), 50 U.S.C. § 1885a, known as the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

The complaints were filed in the wake of news reports in December 2005 that President Bush had issued an order permitting the NSA to conduct warrantless eavesdropping. Under a program known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program (“TSP”), the NSA “had obtained the cooperation of telecommunications companies to tap into a significant portion of the companies’ telephone and e-mail traffic, both domestic
and international.”


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9th Circuit Rules Doctor's Recommendation for Marijuana No Defense

Roshaja Harvey was found to have violated the terms of his supervised release for using marijuana. Harvey appealed, contending that because he had a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana in California pursuant to the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996, he did not violate the possession prohibition of the Federal Controlled Substances Act. He also argued a doctor's "order" was different than a "prescription."

The 9th Circuit has rejected his defense, affirmed the trial court's order, and added:

Whatever else “order” might mean under § 844(a) of the Controlled Substances Act, it does not include a mere recommendation from a physician pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act.


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