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Author: Micah Schwartzbach

Federal Ruling Muddies the Law on Recording the Police

Federal Ruling Muddies the Law on Recording the Police

Update: In July of 2017 a federal court reversed the decision described below. See our post on the reversal. — Constitutional and criminal law are littered with nuances  and vagaries. But at least we’ve got a basic, First-Amendment rule on recording the police. To summarize: Almost every court to consider the issue has determined that the First Amendment gives you the right to record (pictures, video, and audio) an officer in public while he is performing his duties. But that doesn’t mean…

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California Updates Forms for Challenging Traffic Tickets by Video

California Updates Forms for Challenging Traffic Tickets by Video

On September 1, 2015, the California Judicial Council updated forms for people who’ve received traffic tickets and want to show their faces in court without schlepping to the courthouse. As the relevant instruction sheet tells, “remote video proceedings” (RVP) are available in (1) those courts that choose to allow them and (2) “cases involving Vehicle Code infractions or local ordinances adopted under the Vehicle Code.” (Defendants are ineligible if their alleged traffic offenses involve drugs or alcohol or their cases are…

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DOJ’s New “Stingray” Policy Offers Protections, Limitations

DOJ’s New “Stingray” Policy Offers Protections, Limitations

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that police officers generally need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. Earlier this summer, a federal court disagreed with some of its counterparts by holding that the government must typically get a warrant to inspect someone’s past cellphone location information. Now, in the latest example of the law scrambling to keep up with mobile phone technology, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a policy on cell tracking devices. The policy,…

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Cellphone Location Information: Warrant Required?

Cellphone Location Information: Warrant Required?

Updates: In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court established the rule that the police typically must have a warrant to access CSLI. In May 2016, the Fourth Circuit reconsidered the United States v. Graham decision “en banc.” The entire court, rather than a three-judge panel, gave the circuit’s final word on the case. The judges decided that it was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment for the government to obtain CSLI without a warrant. Again, though, the U.S. Supreme Court had the final…

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Police Officers Can’t Search Hotel Records on Demand, but What Does That Mean?

Police Officers Can’t Search Hotel Records on Demand, but What Does That Mean?

On June 22, 2015, in Los Angeles v. Patel, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that cops can’t rummage through hotel records whenever they want. (576 U.S. ___ (2015).) The opinion, framed in terms of the hotel’s privacy interest rather than that of its guests, nixed part of a Los Angeles Municipal Code section. The code section in question mandated that hotel and motel operators (1) maintain certain records about their guests and (2) allow police officers to inspect those records on…

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