The Electronic Frontier Foundation teamed with the UC Berkeley Samuelson Clinic on Law, Technology and Public Policy at Boalt Hall and unearthed through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests a fascinating window into how the government uses social networking sites to gather evidence in cases – EFF Posts Documents Detailing Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites.
Amazingly enough, the IRS seems to be a the forefront in terms of ethical policies:
Generally, you are allowed to review information from publicly accessible, unrestricted websites. Unrestricted websites do not require further action to gain access, such as entering your email address or registering. In civil matters, employees cannot misrepresent their identities, even on the lnternet. You cannot obtain information from websites by registering using fictitious identities.
Another presentation Obtaining and Using Evidence from Social Networking Sites (.pdf) by the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, provides an interesting comparison of the practical ramifications of privacy and retention policies on digital evidence gathering.
The EFF’s Social Networking Monitoring project site will continue to post information which may well be worth monitoring for any lawyer with an interest in the area or clients that might be affected.
I thought surely there was a little more to it than what the Houston Chronicle included in the headine – Judge grants motion declaring death penalty unconstitutional – nope, not really. Harris County Criminal Judge Kevin Fine, who ran on a campaign of personal experience with addiction, has apparently declared the death penalty unconstitutional, granting a motion by defense in a pretrial conference.
If anyone has a copy of the motion I would dearly love to see it. My friend Josh Zientek points out that the orders are available in all their glory on the recently revamped Harris County District Clerk website – see The State of Texas vs. GREEN, JOHN EDWARD JR.. It’s 10 cents a page, which I might find objectionable if the Clerk, Loren Jackson, hadn’t done such an amazing job bringing that system into the 21st century.
Ah, now I get it. Mark Bennett does a typically thorough job in clarifying the situation.
Today Judge Fine denied the defendant’s Motion to Declare Death Penalty Unconstitutional Based on Texas’ Lethal Injection Protocol (Scribd) and his Motion to Declare Texas Death Penalty Statute to be Unconstitutional (Jurors’ Inability to Predict Future Dangerousness) (Scribd). The motion that Judge fine did grant was the defendant’s Motion to Hold that Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.071 is Unconstitutional: Motion to Hold that Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.01 is Unconstitutional.