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Archive for November, 2012

Courts Divided Over Searches of Cellphones

 
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
New York Times

Judges and lawmakers across the country are wrangling over whether and when law enforcement authorities can peer into suspects’ cellphones, and the cornucopia of evidence they provide.

A Rhode Island judge threw out cellphone evidence that led to a man being charged with the murder of a 6-year-old boy, saying the police needed a search warrant. A court in Washington compared text messages to voice mail messages that can be overheard by anyone in a room and are therefore not protected by state privacy laws.

In Louisiana, a federal appeals court is weighing whether location records stored in smartphones deserve privacy protection, or whether they are “business records” that belong to the phone companies.

“The courts are all over the place,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a criminal lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group. “They can’t even agree if there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy in text messages that would trigger Fourth Amendment protection.”

To read the full story click here. 

End of the Road: Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Ex-Rep. William Jefferson’s Appeal

Opening statements in Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
It looks as if it’s the end of the road for Louisiana’s ex-Rep. William Jefferson, who is in prison serving a 13-year sentence for a public corruption conviction.

Bruce Alpert, the star reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, reports that the U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to take the appeal of Jefferson’s 2009 corruption conviction.

Jefferson, 65, is serving his sentence in Beaumont, Tex., and isn’t set to be released until 2023.

To read more click here.

 

Feds Probing the Violent Deaths of Dolphins in Golf Coast

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are investigating the violent deaths of at least six bottlenose dolphins along the northern Gulf Coast this year, CNN reports.

The dolphins were shot and stabbed; in one case, jaw of one of the dolphins was cut off, according to CNN.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it a crime to kill dolphins. Scofflaws face up to one year in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.

In an unrelated case, a man was convicted of throwing pipe bombs at dolphins.

“I can’t explain why anyone would shoot a dolphin,” Jeff Radonski, a Florida-based special agent for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told CNN.

Court: Death Row Inmate Doesn’t Have Right to Access All Records Related to Case

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 A Tennessee death row inmate has been denied access to FBI records that he says would overturn his 1998 conviction for the murder of a Memphis motel clerk, the Associated Press reports.

A federal appeals court reaffirmed the FBI’s right to redact information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The redacted records, inmate Michael Dale Rimmer argues, contain information from witnesses who said he was the wrong suspect, the AP reported.

But the FBI won its argument that the names of those witnesses aren’t important enough to trump the privacy rights of witnesses, the AP wrote.

Face of Chicago’s FBI Retires Following Diverse 32-Year Career

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If the FBI had a face in Chicago, it would be Special Agent Royden “Ross” Rice.

The 32-year veteran of the bureau was a media darling, urging the public to help find the most notorious criminals.

Now Rice is retiring, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Before becoming the Chicago office’s main spokesman, Rice spent time fighting organized crime and cracking cases including robbery and kidnapping.

“Ross is best described as a real professional. He was an accomplished and experienced field agent who worked in one of our most capable and successful resident agencies,” Robert Grant, the former special agent in charge of the FBI office, told the Sun Times. “He was the steady, trusted and confident face and voice of the FBI in Chicago. And he is a good and trusted adviser and friend to me.”

Job Interview for FBI Position Lands Applicant in Hot Water

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

To Dominick Pelletier, he was just being honest when he admitted to possessing child pornography during a job interview for the FBI, Reuters reports.

Because he wasn’t read his rights during the interview, Pelletier claims agents had no basis on which to search his property, where they found more than 600 images of children.

A federal appeals court didn’t buy the argument last week, saying Pelletier, now 35, was not in custody and therefore authorities had no obligation to read him his miranda rights, Reuters reported.

“Indeed, it seems that Pelletier left the interview room believing he was still in the running for an FBI job,” Judge Michael Kanne wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

Some House Republicans Urge FBI to Close Down Hamas-Related Twitter Accounts

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 Some House Republicans are urging the FBI to shut down Hamas-related Twitter accounts because some are being used for terrorism, The Hill reports.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who co-authored a letter to the FBI in September with six other Republican colleagues, resumed his call for taking down the accounts following Hamas attacks on Israel.

“Allowing foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas to operate on Twitter is enabling the enemy,” Poe said in an e-mailed statement to The Hill. “Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilize in their War on Israel.

“Anti-American foreign terrorist groups around the world are doing the same thing every day. The FBI and Twitter must recognize sooner rather than later that social media is a tool for the terrorists.”

The lawmakers say the FBI has an obligation to stop U.S.-designated terror groups from using social media to spread messages that assist terrorism.

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