The Supreme Court just handed down a unanimous opinion ruling in one of the most closely watched cases of the year. All the justices agreed on the result, but diverged significantly in reasoning.
This morning, the court issued its decision in United States v. Jones. Police in Washington, D.C. placed a GPS tracking device on the car of Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner, without obtaining a warrant. The GPS device helped law enforcement link Jones to a house used to store drugs and money. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison. An appeals court later overturned his conviction.
The central issue in Jones was whether attaching a GPS device to a car (i.e., allowing law enforcement 24/7 access to a person’s movements), without obtaining a warrant first, violated the Fourth Amendment.
The case has been heralded as one of the most important privacy cases in recent memory. Wired’s Threat Level blog said Jones “is arguably the biggest Fourth Amendment case in the computer age.” Editor emerita Kashmir Hill attended oral arguments for the case back in November.
What did the justices say? The ruling might surprise you…
“If you win this case, there is nothing to prevent the police or government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States,” said Justice Breyer.
The Supreme Court justices were decked out in their usual black robes today for U.S. vs Jones [pdf], a case involving the question of whether police need a warrant to attach a GPS tracker to someone’s car. But given their paranoia about possible technology-enabled government intrusions on privacy, it might not have been surprising if they had also been wearing tin foil hats.
We’ve been talking a lot recently about the secretly authorized stuff our government does to us — like killing us, or molesting us at airports.
Here’s another one for the list: digging through our emails or Twitter feeds or cell phone data, without probable cause, our permission, or our knowledge. This isn’t necessarily shocking in and of itself; back in April, Kashmir Hill wrote about how often the government requests information about private individuals from tech companies.
What’s shocking is the ease with which the government gets that information and the secrecy with which it does so. Somehow it’s all based on a law that is older than the Internet. The policy recently came to light when authorities ordered a small Internet provider, as well as Twitter and Google, to turn over information about Jacob Appelbaum, an American who volunteers with WikiLeaks.
How does the U.S. government circumvent basic probable cause and search warrant requirements when it wants electronic information? Let’s see….
Before we get to the meat of this story, let’s quickly state the obvious: if you plan to commit a violent crime, you probably should not post details about it on Facebook or Craigslist. If you simply must tell the Interwebs of your devious agenda, it’s probably best to close the incriminating window ASAP, so visitors to your home do not see it on your the PC in your living room.
Glad we got that out of the way. Today, we have another fun dumb criminal story for you. It even comes complete with a thought-provoking judicial ruling. Did you know that if a police officer simply moves a computer mouse or presses a key to wake a computer up from sleep mode, that it constitutes a Fourth Amendment search? Well, neither did a Wisconsin police officer who was investigating a man who allegedly threatened to shoot up a shopping mall (gavel bang: Legal Blog Watch).
More on the case, US v. Michael Musgrove, plus Musgrove’s, original thug life Craigslist posting after the jump….
My objections to the TSA and the invasive search techniques they employ have been well documented in these pages. I believe their tactics are violative of our rights and would be deemed unconstitutional in any America where courts placed justice ahead of fear. I believe a government that authorizes these searches has lost its legitimacy to rule. I believe citizens who support these procedures do not deserve the liberty they so eagerly toss aside.
And I believed all of that before I was actually molested by the TSA just yesterday.
Having now been through that awful experience, and so close to the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, I can only conclude that not only did the terrorists win, but they keep winning. Right now, the terrorists are winning so hard that they’ve gotten us to do their work for them. In my opinion, the TSA is nothing more than a domestic terror organization that operates above the law.
Just two minutes alone with these people has made me realize that their power now far exceeds the normal constraints of law and order. It might well take active civil disobedience to stop them.
Of course, this is all just my opinion. That’s a disclaimer I feel I need to make very clearly, since the TSA apparently believes that I should be wary of even criticizing it, for fear of being slapped with a lawsuit….
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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