May 7, 2012
Concerned that mobile phone networks are becoming surveillance tools, the American Civil Liberties Union recently asked hundreds of local law enforcement agencies whether they've tracked people's movements through their cellphones. Most of those that responded said they had, usually obtaining the information from mobile phone companies without a warrant. The practice has become so routine, the ACLU found, that phone companies are sending out catalogs of monitoring services with detailed price lists to police agencies.
April 2, 2012 |
The Supreme Court refused Monday to limit strip searches of new jail inmates, even those arrested for minor traffic offenses. Dividing 5-4 along ideological lines, the high court said jail guards needed the full authority to closely search everyone who is entering a jail in order to maintain safety and security. It would be “unworkable,” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, to make an exception for persons who are arrested for minor offenses. County jails often must process hundreds of new inmates a day, he said.
January 25, 2012
By a surprisingly unanimous vote, the Supreme Court this week ruled that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a tracking device to a car or other vehicle. The decision is a welcome affirmation of the constitutional right to privacy in an era of advanced technology. But the majority opinion's rationale was needlessly narrow. Whether there is a broad right to freedom from new kinds of intrusive electronic surveillance remains to be answered. The case involved the conviction of Antoine Jones, a suspected drug dealer in the District of Columbia who was arrested after being monitored for 28 days by a global positioning system device surreptitiously attached to his Jeep by law enforcement agents without a warrant.
November 10, 2011
Should the police be allowed to affix an electronic tracking device to a suspect's car without a warrant and follow his every movement for a month? That was the question at an oral argument at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The justices expressed unease with such pervasive surveillance, with one comparing it to George Orwell's "1984. " Their misgivings reflect a sense on the part of many Americans, including this editorial board, that there's something creepy about round-the-clock electronic surveillance.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 7, 2011 |
Sunset Strip bookie Charlie Katz suspected the feds had bugged his apartment, so he would amble over to a pay phone outside where Carney's hot dog joint now stands to call in his bets to Boston and Miami. It was 1965, a time when phone booths had four glass walls and a folding door, allowing Katz to seal himself off from eavesdroppers. Or so he thought. FBI agents planted a recording device at the booth and taped his dealings, leading to his conviction on eight illegal wagering charges.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 7, 2011
From Katz vs. United States to the present, landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings on 4th Amendment issues 1967, – Katz vs. United States: The user of a public phone booth had an expectation of privacy; law enforcement needs a search warrant to electronically eavesdrop. 1968, Terry vs. Ohio: The Exclusionary Rule, barring use of illegally obtained evidence against a defendant, cannot be invoked to exclude the products of legitimate and restrained police investigative techniques such as "stop and frisk" searches of outerwear.
October 2, 2011
In the term that begins Monday, the Supreme Court will address issues as diverse as the limits of copyright law, the appeals process for owners of wetlands regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and whether the government of California can order reductions in Medi-Cal reimbursements. It is also likely that the court will rule on challenges to the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, derided by its critics as "Obamacare. " As is often the case, however, some of the most important cases on the court's docket involve individual rights.
July 7, 2011
As if they didn't have enough problems with online piracy, the major record labels say they've seen a surge in high-quality counterfeit CDs in California in recent years. That's why they're backing a bill by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) that would allow police to search disc manufacturing plants without a warrant, making it easier to find the ones behind the bogus products. The labels' eagerness to crack down on pirates is understandable, and Padilla has crafted a narrow measure that tries to stay within the parameters set by the Supreme Court.
May 23, 2011
One of the most important functions of the Supreme Court is to put legal limits on police excesses. But the court failed to fulfill that responsibility last week when it widened a loophole in the requirement that police obtain a warrant before searching a home. The 8-1 decision came in the case of a search of an apartment in Kentucky by police who suspected illegal drugs were being destroyed. The police, who said they smelled marijuana near the apartment, had knocked loudly on the door and shouted, "This is the police.
May 17, 2011 |
The Supreme Court gave police more leeway to break into homes or apartments in search of illegal drugs when they suspect the evidence otherwise might be destroyed. Ruling in a Kentucky case Monday, the justices said that officers who smell marijuana and loudly knock on the door may break in if they hear sounds that suggest the residents are scurrying to hide the drugs. Residents who "attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame" when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. for an 8-1 majority.