Feds want Indefinite prison time for suspect who won’t decrypt hard drives

US federal prosecutors urged a federal appeals court late Monday to keep a child-porn suspect behind bars — where he already has been for seven months — until he unlocks two hard drives that the government claims contain kid smut.

The suspect, a Philadelphia police sergeant relieved of his duties, has refused to unlock two hard drives and has been in jail ever since a judge’s order seven months ago — and after being found in contempt of court. The defendant can remain locked up until a judge lifts the contempt order.

The government said…he should remain jailed indefinitely until he complies. The authorities also said that it’s not a violation of the man’s Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination because it’s a “foregone conclusion” that illegal porn is on the drives and that he is only being asked to unlock the drives, not divulge their passcodes…

The suspect has not been charged with any child-porn related crimes, yet he is imprisoned in Philadelphia’s Federal Detention Center for refusing to decrypt two drives encrypted with Apple’s FileVault software in a case that highlights the federal government’s war on encryption. A federal magistrate has ordered him imprisoned “until such time that he fully complies” with the decryption order.

The man’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Keith Donoghue, is demanding that the appeals court immediately release his client from prison because he is being “held without charges.”…

In winning the contempt-of-court order, the authorities cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel the suspect to decrypt. The All Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal battle with Apple, in which a magistrate judge ordered Apple to produce code to enable the FBI to decrypt the iPhone used by one of two shooters who killed 14 people at a San Bernardino County government building in December. The case was dropped when the authorities paid a reported $1 million for a hack.

The Supreme Court has never addressed the compelled decryption issue.

Not that I have any confidence in the current Supreme Court – or whatever it turns out to be after the next elections. Defending the Constitution – much less evaluating constitutional freedoms in the 21st Century – is not something today’s crap conservatives care about. It simply isn’t important in an era perfectly willing to establish a police state as the law of the land.

We have been down this road before. Most famously in the tail end of the McCarthy Era, a judge in New Hampshire ordered Dr, Willard Uphaus held in contempt of court for refusing to turn over a list of everyone who attended his World Fellowship camp. Folks interested in global peace gathered in Albany, New Hampshire in convocation for decades. Willard Uphaus refused to collaborate in a witch hunt led by the state’s attorney general and the result was imprisonment under court order. One of the most despicable violations of constitutional rights in a period notorious for teetering on the edge of fascism.

Eventually, Dr. Uphaus was released. All we have today is a different set of scumbags ready and willing to enable what properly is called a police state. There always is a scurrilous reason to cloak the appeal of coppers and crooked judges. The point remains, folks – we can’t protect the rights of individuals unless we protect the rights of everyone.

Euro Parliament has invited Edward Snowden to testify via video

A European parliament committee has invited Edward Snowden to testify via video link in its investigation of US surveillance practices.

The justice and civil liberties committee voted 36-2 with one abstention on Thursday to seek testimony from the former NSA contractor, who has exposed the reach of the US secret surveillance apparatus…

No date has been proposed and it was not immediately clear if Snowden would accept the invitation.

The investigation is aimed at drafting policy recommendations to better protect the privacy of European citizens and improve IT security in EU institutions.

Obama and his Homeland Insecurity flunkies can use this as an excuse to further justify their spying on millions of friends — for every single enemy of freedom. The hypocrisy of American “democrats” is matched only by the indecent way in which they toss billions of dollar$ to the winds of fear and cowardice in the name of security.

Someone mail me a penny postcard when they decide to spend a comparable sum and effort on poverty and education.

Indiscriminate nature of NSA’s spying is collapsing

Gringo ears

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy “open letter to the people of Brazil” that he’s been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of National Security Agency documents, and that the NSA’s culture of indiscriminate global espionage “is collapsing…”

In the letter, released widely online, Snowden commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying.

He said he’d be willing to help the South American nation investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate in doing so without being granted political asylum, because the U.S. “government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.”

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Juror surfs for info beyond courtroom – gets 8 months to reflect

The first juror to be prosecuted for contempt of court for using the internet has been sentenced to eight months in jail.

Joanne Fraill, 40, admitted at London’s high court using Facebook to exchange messages with Jamie Sewart, 34, a defendant already acquitted in a multimillion-pound drug trial in Manchester last year.

Fraill, from Blackley, Manchester, also admitted conducting an internet search into Sewart’s boyfriend, Gary Knox, a co-defendant, while the jury was still deliberating…

When the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, announced her eight-month sentence, Fraill said “eight months!” and put her head on the table in front of her and cried…

Sentencing Fraill, the judge said in a written ruling: “Her conduct in visiting the internet repeatedly was directly contrary to her oath as a juror, and her contact with the acquitted defendant, as well as her repeated searches on the internet, constituted flagrant breaches of the orders made by the judge for the proper conduct of the trial…”

Knox, Sewart’s 35-year-old partner, is applying for his conviction to be overturned on the basis of alleged jury misconduct. He was jailed for six years after being found guilty of paying a police officer to disclose information on drug dealers…

Fraill admitted emailing Sewart while the jury was still deliberating in the drugs trail in August last year because she felt “empathetic” and saw “considerable parallels” between their lives…

The lord chief justice, discussing the reasons for the sentence in the high court, acknowledged that Fraill was “a woman of good character” and was not involved in an attempt to pervert the course of justice. But “misuse of the internet by a juror” was always “a most serious irregularity and contempt”.

He warned that a custodial sentence for any juror committing similar contempts “is virtually inevitable”.

He added: “The sentence is intended to ensure the continuing integrity of trial by jury.”

The solicitor general made the relevant point: “Long before social networks, the courts have been in no doubt that discussions inside the jury room must stay there. The internet doesn’t make judges’ warnings not to talk about a case or research it any less important.”

Supreme Court says dying man’s words can stand at trial

A mortally wounded man’s identification of his assailant may be repeated by police officers in court, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday. The 6-to-2 decision was a significant retreat from the court’s recent embrace of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, which guarantees criminal defendants the right to confront witnesses against them.

Justice Antonin Scalia had been the leading proponent of a robust interpretation of the Confrontation Clause, and Monday’s decision drew a slashing dissent from him. He called the majority’s account of the facts of the case “so transparently false that professing to believe it demeans this institution…”

Justice Sotomayor, responding to criticism from Justice Scalia, acknowledged that determining whether the primary purpose of a crime victim’s statement was to provide information about past events or to aid in addressing a current emergency requires “a highly context-dependent inquiry…”

Justice Scalia’s dissent was comprehensively critical of the majority’s approach. He said it represented a significant shift away from the court’s 2004 ruling in Crawford v. Washington, which had breathed new life into the Confrontation Clause…

Justice Scalia added that the majority had smuggled back into the law a factor that the Crawford decision had rejected — whether the out-of-court statements were “reliable.”

Dispensing with confrontation because testimony is obviously reliable is akin to dispensing with jury trial because a defendant is obviously guilty,” Justice Scalia wrote for the majority in Crawford. “This is not what the Sixth Amendment prescribes.”

An essentially Republican court renders an essentially conservative opinion. One that reeks of frontier justice and the laws of Judge Lynch.

With no right to confront and question a witness defendants lose a basic constitutional right.

Supremes revisit ruling requiring testimony from police lab techs

Virginia Hernandez Lopez admitted to knocking back two shots of tequila with Sprite chasers on an August night in Julian, Calif., a couple of years ago. But she said she was not drunk when her Ford Explorer collided with an oncoming Toyota pickup truck later that night, killing its driver.

In May, a California state appeals court affirmed Ms. Lopez’s conviction for vehicular manslaughter. Her blood-alcohol level two hours after the accident was, according to a report presented to the jury, just over the legal limit of .08 percent.

But the appeals court reconsidered the case after a decision in June from the United States Supreme Court that prohibited prosecutors from introducing crime lab reports without testimony from the analysts who prepared them.

The appeals court reversed Ms. Lopez’s conviction, saying prosecutors had violated her constitutional right to confront witnesses against her by failing to put the analyst who prepared the blood-alcohol report on the stand.

But now, in an unusual move, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on Jan. 11 in a new case that raises questions about how lower courts may carry out its six-month-old precedent. Many state attorneys general and prosecutors are hoping the court will overrule its decision in the earlier case, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, before it can take root, saying it is a costly, disruptive and dangerous misstep.

“Already data and anecdotal evidence are demonstrating an overwhelming negative impact,” a friend-of-the-court brief submitted by 26 attorneys general last month said. The decision, they said, “is already proving unworkable.”

RTFA. Prosecutors and defense lawyers have the world of differences on the question – as you might presume.

The article doesn’t mention what Ms. Lopez had to say about the constitutional rights of Allan Wolowsky, the driver she killed.

Time-saving technology for Derby coppers


In Derbyshire, officers are swapping their notebooks and pens for a small memory card, so that hours of film can be gathered as evidence on something as small as a fingerprint. It is the latest way to get the best out of technology that’s already been tried and tested.

Headcams have been worn by police officers in other parts of the country for quite a while, but here in Derby city centre they’re being used alongside a new computer system which means officers can store and retrieve the footage quickly and easily.

In the time it takes to burn the evidence onto a DVD, an officer could be back out onto the street

Using film as part of a police statement not only reduces their workload by 30%, but also the force says it is cheaper because some of the typical cases they deal with don’t reach court anymore.

Officers have shown footage to people who were under the influence of alcohol at the time they filmed the incident. In the cold light of day, it has been harder for them to dispute the evidence they see in front of them. As a result, they admit the crime.

Its also been useful to record certain types of crime, like domestic violence.

Officers say that victims often feel compelled to change their statement a few days after it happened, but when the injuries are caught on camera straight away, its more likely that the case will reach court.

An advance in the use of technology to record events for police forces. IMHO, recording always works better than trying to remember.

He spotted Madoff as a crook nine years ago – SEC did nothing!

The financial analyst who nine years ago discovered Bernard Madoff’s multi-billion dollar alleged fraud scheme today lambasted US securities officials who ignored his warnings, calling for a shakeup of the US securities and exchange commission’s structure.

Harry Markopolos, a Massachusetts financial analyst who since 2000 several times sought to alert the SEC to Madoff’s fraud, told a House of Representatives committee that the agency should replace its lawyer-heavy enforcement staff with senior securities professionals who have years of industry experience and can understand cutting-edge financial instruments used by hedge fund traders.

That’s putting what he had to say about SEC lawyers – politely.

Markopolos discovered Madoff’s alleged malfeasance in May 2000, after he became suspicious of his years-long record of success in all market conditions. Markopolos said it took him about five minutes perusing Madoff’s marketing materials to suspect fraud, and another roughly four hours to develop mathematical models to prove it. He eventually delivered a detailed case to securities regulators in Boston and followed up several times over the next eight years as he continued to gather evidence. He said that important SEC officials in New York and Boston brushed his reports aside.

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Former White House aide Karl Rove subpoenaed – again

Empty chair the Judiciary Committee saw the last time they subpoenaed Rove

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Monday subpoenaed former White House adviser Karl Rove, The Hill reported. The subpoena is intended to compel Rove to testify about his role in the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys during the administration of former President George W. Bush, as well as the Justice Department’s prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, the report said.

Rove is one of several former White House officials who refused to testify voluntarily in the House and Senate in 2007 on the dismissal of the federal prosecutors. The Bush White House offered to allow executive branch officials to be interviewed behind closed doors, but insisted the officials could not be put under oath and there would be no transcripts of the interviews.

Rove has claimed executive privilege exemption from being compelled to testify but a federal court has rejected the claim.

“I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today’s action is an important step along the way,” said Conyers in announcing the subpoena.

So, is this when Karl Rove switches from “executive privilege” to the Fifth Amendment?