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warrantless evidence

11th Circuit Rules Warrantless Mobile Phone Tracking Unconstitutional

The 11th Circuit ruled yesterday that it's unconstitutional for law enforcement to track cellphones without warrants, the Associated Press reports. The appeals court "determined people have an expectation of privacy in their movements and that the cell tower data was part of that. As such, obtaining the records without a search warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures, the judges ruled," according to the AP.

It's the first ruling of the kind in the country.

PA Supreme Court OKs Warrantless Searches of Cars

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 4-2, has ruled that warrantless searches of cars are permissible, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports. The Supreme Court adopted a probable cause standard. Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, the author for the majority, said Pennsylvania would now have a uniform standard in federal and state court and would "'avoid unnecessary confusion, conflict and inconsistency in this often-litigated area.'" In dissent, Justice Debra Todd said the majority was contravening "'225 years of unyielding protection against unreasonable search and seizure which our people have enjoyed as their birthright.'"

Will Supreme Court Limit Cellphone Searches?

Several U.S. Supreme Court justices appear to be open to putting limits on police officers searching cellphones, Politico reports. Oral argument were heard in two criminal cases today involving warrantless searches of smartphones: "The arguments in both cases centered around whether cellphones and personal technology have created a fundamentally different world for police, and whether that means that warrants should be required for all searches of electronic devices," Politico further reports.

Did Solicitor General Violate Duty of Candor to U.S. Supreme Court?

It's been reported before how Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. told the Supreme Court no one had standing to challenge warrantless electronic surveillance because no criminal defendants had yet been caught by the program. Despite Verrilli's assurances to the court that defendants would receive notice if the evidence against them derived from warrantless surveillance, the Department of Justice was not giving any such notices. The Intercept notes that Verrilli himself might not have known at the time that the DOJ wasn't providing notice, and he successfully argued for a change in policy. But Dan Novack, writing in The Intercept, asks why the solicitor general has not yet corrected the record in the U.S. Supreme Court: " Lawyers have an ethical obligation to speak with candor to tribunals, especially when representing the government. Amazingly, Verrilli has managed to remain silent throughout this controversy. It’s past time we heard from him directly."

First Criminal Defendant Challenges Warrantless Surveillance

A defendant convicted in a terrorism case is challenging the use of warrantless surveillaince in his case, The Washington Post reports: "Late Monday, [Mohamed Osman] Mohamud’s attorneys filed a 66-page motion in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., seeking discovery of information that they believe will aid in an eventual challenge to the constitutionality of the law that authorized the surveillance used in his case. At the very least, they say, Mohamud deserves a new trial because he was not informed that the government used the warrantless program in bringing its case the first time." 

U.S. Supreme Court Test Case Set Up with Prosecutors Informing Terror Suspect of Warrantless Evidence in His Case?

The Washington Post reports that a defendant in a terrorism case has been informed by the U.S. Department of Justice that federal prosecutors want to use evidence generated from warrantless surveillance against him. The case is expect to generate a constitutional challenge. The case also could generated a U.S. Supreme Court test case. The Supreme Court rejected prior challenges to warrantless surveillance because the "lawyers, journalists and human rights organizations who brought the suit could not prove they had been caught up in the surveillance. As a result, they did not have legal standing to challenge the constitutionality," The Washington Post also reports.

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