Back when I started in the privacy advocacy community -- about 20 years ago, at the ACLU -- we used to talk about the incredible shrinking Fourth Amendment. It was a riff on the Lilly Tomlin movie – The Incredible Shrinking Woman. In the movie, Tomlin’s character shrank because she was exposed to an experimental perfume. The question we face today is whether the zone of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment will shrink on account of our use of technology.
Monday, March 30, 2015
Sunday, March 29, 2015
The revelations of mass global surveillance in recent years by the United States and its global partners have exposed a dramatic shift in how law enforcement and intelligence agencies conduct and justify surveillance activities. Modern surveillance has gone from passive capture of signals to active interference with devices, systems, networks, and communications; from targeted scrutiny of individuals to surveillance of millions in bulk; from examining basic communications content and metadata to fundamentally intrusive analytical techniques. All of these changes are occurring over a backdrop of rapid changes in communications technologies and services that have rendered legal distinctions between foreign and domestic communications artificial and unworkable.
Friday, March 27, 2015
The increase of Title IX violations and lawsuits against universities has led many to question why sexually motivated crimes can be investigated, tried, and decided upon by educational institutions instead of criminal proceedings through the justice system.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
One huge hurdle that litigators encounter during trials is not only meeting their burden of proof to prevail, but also keeping the jury engaged. A jury trial, especially in more serious or complex matters is not the three minute clip that you see on television or in the movies. Trials can be long, often extending over months, depending on the matter at hand. Throughout that time, we have a jury box of humans who are taking in all of this information and then tasked with deliberating to render a verdict. I specifically point to the jurors as humans, because as humans we have shifting attention spans. This is why it is extremely important to put on compelling and engaging presentations to the jury. In the criminal context, it can be very powerful to display demonstrative evidence in a memorable manner.
Friday, March 20, 2015
In recent years the Justice Department’s white-collar agenda has been marked by skyrocketing corporate settlements due in large part to the government’s increased reliance on Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs). The use of these and similar agreements continue to be an essential enforcement tool for the U.S. Department of Justice and have become a hallmark of the government’s response to white-collar crime under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
While the film box office continues to see millions of dollars in revenue from the film American Sniper, a jury found Eddie Ray Routh guilty of the first degree murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. During the trial documentation was provided that Routh was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) and schizophrenia. PTSD is a mental condition that is documented to occur to individuals who have experienced grave events including rape, death, or some sort of near death experienced. Because of the violent nature of war it is well documented that military service members may experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder upon returning to the United States, which affects their abilities not only to obtain jobs, but also to maintain relationships with family and friends. The recent return of various combat troops is resulting in increasing numbers of veterans coming back as different people, often times violent.
Friday, March 13, 2015
In February 2015, the Hagerstown Police Department in Hagerstown, Maryland, received its first Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), adding to the ranks of over 7,000 DREs already credentialed. There are certified drug recognition experts in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, with more being trained annually. While the number sitting alone may seem large, the figure barely registers in comparison to the 765,000 sworn law enforcement officers reported to work for approximately 18,000 state and local police agencies in 2008 (statistics for 2012 have yet to be released—another census will not be performed until 2016). Yet, these specialized officers, having undergone intensive training, serve an important role within their departments by assisting to identify and arrest drug-impaired drivers.