A U.S. appeals court said on Friday the widespread prevalence of mobile devices means that it is insufficient as a basis for obtaining a warrant to search someone’s home for a cellphone.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s Circuit threw out a D.C. man’s criminal conviction for unlawful possession of a fireman by a felon, saying in a 2-1 ruling that the police found the weapon only because they drafted an “overly broad” search warrant.
The warrant did not say police believed they would find a gun. Instead, it authorized officers to search for any cellphones and other electronic devices in the man’s residence.
The warrant was unconstitutional because police had no particular reason to think the man owned a cellphone or that it would contain incriminating messages, the court said.
“The assumption that most people own a cell phone would not automatically justify an open-ended warrant to search a home anytime officers seek a person’s phone,” Judge Sri Srinivasan said in a decision joined by Judge Nina Pillard.
The man at the center of the case, Ezra Griffith, was suspected by Washington police of acting as the getaway driver in a 2011 murder.
In 2013 a judge approved a warrant that allowed police to enter Griffith’s residence and seize cellphones. When police arrived at Griffith’s residence they seized a gun that had been thrown from a window.
Griffith had a prior criminal conviction so prosecutors charged him with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. A jury convicted him in 2013.
Griffith’s lawyers argued the gun should have been suppressed, saying the warrant under which it was found was defective because of its focus on cellphones.
The D.C. Circuit said in Friday’s ruling that police did not have probable cause to think Griffith owned a cellphone, much less that the phone would turn up evidence relating to his alleged role in the murder.
“Finding the existence of probable cause in this case, therefore, would verge on authorizing a search of a person’s home almost anytime there is probable cause to suspect her of a crime,” Srinivasan said in the court’s majority decision. “We cannot accept that proposition.”
Judge Janice Rogers Brown dissented, saying the gun should have been allowed into evidence because police acted in good faith.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Frances Kerry)
‘Any other attorney general would resign’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe scalds Barr for ‘lying’ about FBI
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough scalded Attorney General William Barr for lying about the inspector general report he ordered to justify President Donald Trump's conspiracy theories.
The Department of Justice's inspector general failed to find evidence of an FBI plot against Trump's 2016 campaign, but Barr publicly disagreed with those findings and insisted there was not enough justification to launch the Russia investigation.
"His lie about Barack Obama, you know, crawling around Trump Tower like bugging his phone, a lie," Scarborough said. "The lie from the attorney general of the United States, just shocking, that FBI agents, quote, 'spied,' spied on the president of the United States -- a lie."
These homes for mentally ill adults have been notoriously mismanaged. Now, one is a gruesome crime scene.
Oceanview Manor Home for Adults, a psychiatric group home at the center of a yearslong legal battle over the rights of people with mental illness, is now the scene of a criminal investigation involving the death of a resident and the arrest of another.
On the afternoon of Dec. 3, workers at the Oceanview Manor Home for Adults found resident Ann McGrory, 58, lying on the floor, lifeless, with her pants down around her ankles. She had cuts and bruises on her hands, head and face. By her side, seated atop his bed in Room 512, was resident Frank Thompson, 64, her sometimes-boyfriend who had a reputation at the home as a heavy drinker with a short temper. The aides called police. Thompson was brought into custody for questioning later that day and placed under arrest on Wednesday.
New York City paid McKinsey millions to stem jail violence. Instead, violence soared.
The corporate consulting firm reported bogus numbers and flailed in a project at Rikers Island. Today, assaults and other attacks there are up almost 50%.
In April 2017, partners from McKinsey & Company sent a confidential final report to the New York City corrections commissioner. They had spent almost three years leading an unusual project for a white-shoe corporate consulting firm like McKinsey: Attempting to stem the tide of inmate brawls, gang slashings and assaults by guards that threatened to overwhelm the jail complex on Rikers Island.