Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Interesting amicus briefs on cell site case (Carpenter) before SCOTUS

The Supreme Court will hear the cell site case (Carpenter) sometime this winter.  Amicus briefs in support of Carpenter were filed yesterday.  Here is one by EFF and NACDL,* among others.  The Cato Institute brief is also worth a read.

Perhaps the most interesting brief is this one filed by "tech companies."  Although they don't take a position on this specific case, which argues that the third party doctrine is no longer workable in this modern era
The Internet and Internet-connected devices have revolutionized nearly every facet of our lives. Ameri-cans rely daily on services made possible by networked technologies—from email, smartphones, and web-based social media the Court has already encountered to new and evolving products and applications in the “Internet of Things,” such as smart-home devices that can be used to control room temperature and lighting, order groceries, and perform a multitude of other tasks. These devices and services not only confer immense value on users and society, but in many instances are considered practical necessities of modern life.

Using these technologies often involves transmit-ting highly personal information through the networks and applications of digital service providers. That in-cludes transmission of metadata—
i.e., data about da-ta—generated by automated processes that are part of the background operation of digital devices and applica-tions. Such transmissions are inherent features of how the Internet and networked devices work. Short of forgoing all use of digital technologies, they are una-voidable. And this transmission of data will only grow as digital technologies continue to develop and become more integrated into our lives. Because the data that is transmitted can reveal a wealth of detail about people’s personal lives, however, users of digital technologies reasonably expect to retain significant privacy in that data, notwithstanding that technology companies may use or share the data in various ways to provide and improve their services for their customers. Fourth Amendment doctrine must adapt to this new reality. Although amici do not take a position on the outcome of this case, they believe the Court should refine the application of certain Fourth Amendment doctrines to ensure that the law realistically engages with Internet-based technologies and with people’s ex-pectations of privacy in their digital data. Doing so would reflect this Court’s consistent recognition that Fourth Amendment protections, governed as they are by reasonable expectations of privacy, must respond to changes in technology that implicate privacy. Indeed, in declining to extend the search-incident-to-arrest ex-ception to searches of cell phones in Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014), this Court has already signaled that digital information deserves special consideration, largely because Internet-connected devices such as smartphones “are not just another technological con-venience,” but are necessary to participate in the mod-ern world, and “hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life.’”
Id.at 2494-2495.

In the digital context, inflexible doctrines that cat-egorically foreclose any protection for data automatical-ly generated by ordinary digital activity—or that will be generated by the yet-to-be-conceived technologies of tomorrow—are not sustainable. In particular, the analog-era notion that transmission of data to a third party is necessarily “voluntary” conduct that precludes Fourth Amendment protection should not apply in a world where devices and applications constantly transmit data to third parties by dint of their mere op-eration. No constitutional doctrine should presume that consumers assume the risk of warrantless government surveillance simply by using technologies that are beneficial and increasingly integrated into modern life. Similarly, the fact that certain digitally transmitted information might have been traditionally classified as “non-content” should not unconditionally bar Fourth Amendment protection, as this data can of-ten be highly revealing of the intimate details of a us-er’s life. Rather than adhere to rigid Fourth Amendment “on/off” switches developed in the analog context, courts should take a more flexible approach that realis-tically reflects the privacy people expect in today’s dig-ital environment. Consistent with the general reasona-ble-expectation-of-privacy inquiry, courts should focus on the sensitivity of the data at issue and the circumstances of its transmission to third parties. That approach would better reflect the realities of today’s digital technologies and accommodate the technologies of the future.

*Full disclosure -- I am counsel for NACDL in this brief.

Monday, August 14, 2017

SDFLA seeks two Magistrate Judges

The Southern District of Florida is seeking two Magistrate Judges -- one for West Palm Beach and one for Miami.  Here's the court announcement:

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida anticipates appointing two full-time Magistrate Judges in the coming months, one for the Miami Division and one for the West Palm Beach Division.  A full public notice for the Miami position is posted on the Courts Internet website at: www.flsd.uscourts.gov.  Application forms are also available on the website. The application deadline for the Miami position is September 11, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.  Final approval to fill the West Palm Beach position is pending at this time.  Once approval is received, a full public notice will be posted on the website and the application deadline for that position will be set.  Those interested in the West Palm Beach position should continue to check the Court's website for updates.    
In addition, the Court is seeking comment on the reappointment of Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow in Fort Lauderdale and Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman in Miami.  Information regarding the reappointment process and how to submit comments may found on the Court's website:  www.flsd.uscourts.gov.  The deadline for submitting comments is September 11, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.
Interested persons should consult the Court's website for further details.  The Clerk of Court may also be contacted for additional information or forms at (305) 523-5001 or Court-Admin_flsd@flsd.uscourts.gov.

Friday, August 11, 2017

11th Circuit, per Judge Jordan, quotes Carly Rae Jepsen

The 11th Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Jordan, quoted Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe":
According to the district court, no reasonable jury could find that Ms.Schweitzer partially revoked her consent to receive automated calls on October 13 because she did not specify what “the morning” and “during the work day” meant. A jury could certainly find that Ms. Schweitzer—like the protagonist of a recent hit song—was too equivocal, cf. Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe, on Curiosity (Universal Music Canada 2012), but we do not think that the lack of specificity is fatal to her claim of partial revocation.
Judge Rosenbaum's recent GoT's reference might be a little hipper, but I love that Judge Jordan listens to Call Me Maybe!

hat tip:  E.S.

Jeff Sessions is pushing for "Hang 'Um High" Henry Hudson to be on Sentencing Commission

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing for "Hang 'Um High" Henry Hudson to be on the Sentencing Commission. I kid you not. Professor Berman has more at his blog here. And this, from the WSJ article:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is urging the White House to nominate a federal judge and tough-on-crime ex-prosecutor once nicknamed “Hang ’Um High” Henry Hudson to an independent, bipartisan panel that issues sentencing guidelines. Mr. Sessions’ recommendation for one of three openings on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, confirmed by people familiar with the process, reflects the Justice Department’s broader crackdown on violent crime, including the reversal of several Obama -era policies.

The department is urging the commission to toughen sentences for certain violent criminals, drug offenders, illegal immigrant smugglers and so-called career offenders. In its annual report to the commission, the department asked it to preserve the long, mandatory-minimum sentences that supporters say help fight crime but critics say inflate prison costs and disproportionately hurt minority communities without improving public safety.

President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to “restore law and order,” has the authority but is under no requirement to fill two Republican vacancies and one Democratic spot on the seven-seat commission.

Judge Hudson, who has acknowledged his colorful nickname, was a candidate for FBI director earlier this year. He is best known for sending pro-football quarterback Michael Vick to prison in 2007 for running a dogfighting ring and for finding unconstitutional a key provision of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve on the commission,” Judge Hudson, who serves in the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., said in a telephone interview Thursday. “I’d like to make sure the guidelines are fair and consider every possible factor in a case.”

Mr. Hudson would be the first new commission member tapped by Mr. Trump, who has reappointed two members previously nominated by former President Barack Obama. A White House official declined to discuss Mr. Hudson’s prospects, but said the administration is committed to filling all federal vacancies....

Mr. Hudson would be expected to shake up the low-profile but powerful panel, which has produced research on the prison population, recidivism and sentencing that advocates have cited in pressing for an overhaul of the criminal justice system.

In its most consequential decision in recent years, the commission in 2014 rolled back penalties for most federal drug offenses, allowing more than 30,000 inmates to seek reduced sentences and helping to trim the federal prison population for the first time in decades. That trend is expected to reverse under Mr. Sessions, a former U.S. attorney and senator from Alabama. After a string of major overhauls of Obama administration policies that sought to curb potential abuses by police and prosecutors Mr. Sessions is now seeking to make his mark on the sentencing commission.

“That is the place where the biggest sentencing reforms have been made in Washington, in that nothing the White House or Congress has done comes close,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, which favors lighter sentencing. “This little agency is a big deal and Sessions wants to exercise his influence, which is shaping up into a fight.”

Among Mr. Sessions’ recommendations is a proposal that the Sentencing Commission reduce the quantity of fentanyl, an opioid, that triggers a sentence of 10 to 16 months for possession with intent to sell. Stiffer penalties weren’t one of a slate of recent proposals made by the president’s task force on opioids, which included expanding treatment through the Medicaid program....

Mr. Hudson declined to comment on his own sentencing of some defendants to decadeslong mandatory-minimum sentences. “I’m anxious to hear the debate and hear everyone’s viewpoint,” he said. “I won’t come to the sentencing commission with any preconceived notions.”

In a 2007 memoir titled “Quest for Justice,” Mr. Hudson recalled that police in Arlington, Va., wore campaign buttons that said “I voted for “Hang ’Em High Henry” during his re-election campaign as a state prosecutor in the early 1980s. “I didn’t reject that nickname, nor did I solicit it,” he said Thursday. “My record as a judge speaks for itself.”

As a state prosecutor in liberal-leaning northern Virginia, Mr. Hudson shut down adult bookstores and massage parlors. That led to his chairmanship of former President Ronald Reagan’s national commission on pornography, which linked porn to violence. He was director of the U.S. Marshals Service during the 1992 deadly siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

He also stirred controversy for prosecuting a mentally disabled man for the murder of a woman in 1984. David Vasquez served five years in prison before DNA and other evidence exonerated him. “I certainly wish him the best and regret what happened,” Mr. Hudson wrote in his memoir, saying he remained convinced of his involvement in the murder. “However, I offer no apologies.”