Civil Rights Law & Policy Blog

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Monday, May 12, 2014

"Too Much Information: How Not to Think About Privacy and the Fourth Amendment"

The title of this post comes from this upcoming paper by Professor David Alan Sklansky, the abstract of which states:

Fourth Amendment law today is overloaded with information: not just in the sense that the explosive growth of digitized information requires rethinking traditional rules of search and seizure, but also and more importantly in the sense that a preoccupation with data flows has led to the neglect of important dimensions of privacy. There is no doubt that the control of personal information is an important value and one uniquely threatened by the rise of social media, by the proliferation of technological surveillance, and by the arrival of Big Data. But the reduction of privacy to control over information has made it difficult to think sensibly about the distinctive threats posed by government searches, and it is partly to blame for the growing and unwarranted idea that the Fourth Amendment should be decoupled from privacy - an idea variously motivated by a belief that the concept of privacy is meaningless, by the fear that privacy is dead or dying, and by a sense that the main threats to privacy today are orthogonal to the chief dangers posed by law enforcement. Search and seizure law would be better served by an understanding of privacy rooted in respect for a zone of refuge and informed by privacy’s longstanding associations with enclothement, retreat, and personal sovereignty. This alternative conception of privacy - privacy as refuge - should also be attentive to the relational nature of privacy, the connection between privacy and civility, and the effects of privacy violations on the perpetrators as well as the victims.

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May 12, 2014 in Fourth Amendment, Search, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

"School Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment"

The title of this post comes from this recent paper by Professor Jason Nance, the abstract of which states:

In the aftermath of several highly-publicized incidents of school violence, public school officials have increasingly turned to intense surveillance methods to promote school safety. The current jurisprudence interpreting the Fourth Amendment generally permits school officials to employ a variety of strict measures, separately or in conjunction, even when their use creates a prison-like environment for students. Yet, not all schools rely on such strict measures. Recent empirical evidence suggests that low-income and minority students are much more likely to experience intense security conditions in their school than other students, even after taking into account factors such as neighborhood crime, school crime, and school disorder. These empirical findings are problematic on two related fronts. First, research suggests that students subjected to these intense surveillance conditions are deprived of quality educational experiences that other students enjoy. Second, the use of these measures perpetuates social inequalities and exacerbates the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Under the current legal doctrine, students have almost no legal recourse to address conditions creating prison-like environments in schools. This Article offers a reformulated legal framework under the Fourth Amendment that is rooted in the foundational Supreme Court cases evaluating students’ rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The historical justification courts invoke to abridge students’ constitutional rights in schools, including their Fourth Amendment rights, is to promote the educational interests of the students. This justification no longer holds true when a school creates a prison-like environment that deteriorates the learning environment and harms students’ educational interests. This Article maintains that in these circumstances students’ Fourth Amendment rights should not be abridged, but strengthened.

May 4, 2014 in Fourth Amendment, Schools, Search, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Nov. 14, 2013

Northern Illinois University student has been arrested after police discovered an AR-15 rifle and a handgun in his dorm room; federal agents claim gun made by a 3-D printer could threaten security; Iowa gun store owner has been arrested after selling fully automatic machine gun; Milwaukee youth help city officials develop strategies to reduce gun violence; and a Florida woman pulls a gun on a journalist.

Sen. Rubio is scheduled to speak at a conference led by an anti-gay activist; Indiana woman has been denied access to her partner who is currently unconscious in the hospital; and five Senagalese women could face as much as five years in prison because they are lesbians.

Supreme Court considers whether law enforcement officials violate the Fourth Amendment when they search an apartment after one roomate denies them entry but another later permits it; and TSA's profiling program is ineffective.

Students decry lack of diversity at UCLA; and federal court hears oral argument on University of Texas's addmission policy that considers race.

Former Dolphin's offensive lineman Jonathan Martin might sue the team for harassment and discrimination.

ProPublica documents China's efforts to censor Twitter messages.

 

November 14, 2013 in Affirmative Action, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Gun Policy, Same-sex marriage, Search, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 8, 2013

CRL&P Morning Reads: Nov. 8, 2013

Although not charged, the Cleveland PD continue to hold a man's gun pursuant to a city ordinance that permits police to seize an arrestee's guns until a court orders their return.

House Republicans say they're worried about ENDA's effect on small businesses, and gay-rights advocates turn to President Obama urging him to sign an workplace anti-discrimination order. Crotia prepares to vote on whether to allow gay-marriage.

Secure email system used by Snowden now will work to create a new system that is immune from government surveillance.

LAPD arrests 54 Walmart protesters as more than 500 workers and community leaders gathered to protest the store's low wages.

Mother files suit against local school district alleging it ignored reports that an assistant principle repeatedly snuck her daughter out of her home for sex.

 

November 8, 2013 in 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Civil Rights Litigation, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Assembly, Gun Policy, Same-sex marriage, Schools, Search, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The legislative response to mass police surveillance

The title of this post comes from this upcoming article offering a model statute to guide state legislatures as they craft public policy balancing the safety interests compelling mass surveillance with issues of fundamental fairness. Here's the abstract:

Police departments have rapidly adopted mass surveillance technologies in an effort to fight crime and improve efficiency. I have previously described this phenomenon as the growth of the digitally efficient investigative state. This new technological order transforms traditional law enforcement by improving the efficiency of everyday policing activities and retaining copious amounts of data on both suspicious and unsuspicious behavior. Empirical evidence shows that police surveillance technologies are common and rapidly expanding in urban America. In the absence of legislative action, police departments have adopted widely disparate internal policies. The Supreme Court had the opportunity to reign in the scope of police surveillance in Jones v. United States. But the Court could not agree on whether technological improvements in efficiency transform an otherwise legal policing tactic into an unconstitutional search. Nor could the Court agree on whether a person may have a reasonable expectation to privacy in public movement. Post-Jones, the jurisprudence of police surveillance emerged as incoherent as ever. 

I have previously argued that the judiciary should regulate police surveillance technologies. While it remains possible that the judiciary will someday make such a doctrinal shift, the immediate responsibility for regulating police surveillance technology falls on state legislatures. In this Article, I offer a model statute to regulate mass police surveillance. The model statute limits indiscriminate data collection. It also caps data retention for personally identifiable information. It excludes from criminal court any locational evidence obtained in violation of the statute. And it gives the state attorney general authority to bring suit against police departments that fail to abide by the law. This legislation would give discretion to police departments to craft data policies fitting their city’s unique needs, while also encouraging consistency and fairness.

 

November 6, 2013 in Fourth Amendment, Search, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cyber-Surveillance Without Restraint? The Meaning and Social Value of the Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion Standards in Governmental Access to Third Party Electronic Records

The title of this post comes from this recent article arguing that the Fourth Amendment's probable cause and reasonable suspicion standards provide adequate protection against impermissible searches of third-party electronic records. Here's the abstract:

The United States Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourth Amendment to provide no privacy protection for records held by third parties. The American Bar Association recently sought to step into this breach by recommending standards to govern government access to third-party electronic records, such as those held by banks, Internet service providers, and medical care providers. Those standards retain requirements of probable cause and reasonable suspicion for government access respectively to highly protected and moderately protected records. Law enforcement has challenged these requirements as unduly burdensome, while some commentators have argued that probable cause and reasonable suspicion are so easy to prove in the third-party records context as to provide no effective privacy protection at all. This Article challenges both those views by defining with greater specificity than has yet been accomplished the meaning of two aspects of probable cause: the quantitative and the qualitative. The Article also addresses their social value by exploring cognitive science, philosophy on the nature of probability, and political incentives facing police and prosecutors. The Article also examines the evidentiary concept of “weight” and analyzes the implications of various technological processes for applying these justification requirements in the third-party electronic-records context. The Article ultimately concludes that retaining probable cause and reasonable suspicion protections—when coupled with additional protections provided by the standards—is neither oppressive of law enforcement nor underprotective of persons whose records are searched. Instead, the balance achieved by the standards in this area is just right.

 

November 5, 2013 in First Amendment, Search, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NY appeals judges ponder fate of stop-frisk ruling

The title of this post comes from this article reporting that the Second U.S Circuit Court of Appeals may suspend the lower court's ruling that NYC's stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional. The article begins:

A federal judge's conclusion that New York City police officers sometimes violate the constitution when they stop and frisk people has made officers "passive and scared" to use the crime-fighting tactic, lawyers warned a federal appeals panel Tuesday as they asked that the ruling be suspended while it is appealed.

The three-judge 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asked plenty of questions but did not immediately rule in a case that may be affected in a major way by next week's mayoral election. Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio, who is leading in polls, has sharply criticized and promised to reform the police department's stop-and-frisk technique, saying it unfairly targets minorities.

Attorney Celeste L. Koeleveld, arguing for the city, said officers are "hesitant, unfortunately" to use the tactic anymore.

Attorney Daniel Connolly, making legal points on behalf of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, told judges that city officers were "defensive, passive and scared" about using the technique.


Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/10/29/5288170/ny-appeals-judges-ponder-fate.html#storyli

October 29, 2013 in Fourth Amendment, Search, Seizure, Stop-and-frisk | Permalink | Comments (0)

How long is too long for a traffic stop?

Wait A Second! today reminds us that traffic stops can violate the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness requirement. In this post, the blog highlights the recent Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision holding that a half hour stop was not unreasonable under these circumstances:

The case is Harwe v. Floyd, a summary order decided on October 17. The stop lasted a half hour. Floyd stopped Levy's car because she swerved without signaling. She admitted drinking alcohol at dinner. The Second Circuit (Raggi, Droney and Keenan [D.J.]) says that Floyd reasonably continued the stop "beyond the time necessary to issue a traffic violation in order to assuage reasonable suspicions as to driver sobriety." He necessarily questioned Levy and Harwe separately because Levy failed two sobriety tests, further lengthening the stop.


The case seems simple enough, but nothing under the Fourth Amendment is simple. Levy says the officer should have instead investigated her claim that she failed the sobriety tests because she was a stroke victim. But the Court says that Floyd's interview at the time was reasonable. The plaintiffs also argue that Floyd wasted time talking with other officers "who purported laughed and pointed at Levy." But even if this conversation was unrelated to the stop, it was relatively brief in comparison to the necessarily more time-consuming sobriety tests, preliminary questioning, the placement of Levy in the police car and filling out the citation, among other things.

October 29, 2013 in Fourth Amendment, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0)

Policing the Immigration Police: ICE Prosecutorial Discretion and the Fourth Amendment

The title of this post comes from this paper examining the role of prosecutors in upholding the Fourth Amendment in immigration cases, and what remedies might be available to noncitizens when law enforcement violate its mandate during arrests. Here's the abstract:

A persistent puzzle in immigration law is how the removal adjudication system should respond to the increasing prevalence of violations of noncitizens’ constitutional rights by arresting officers. Scholarship in this area has focused on judicial suppression of unconstitutionally obtained evidence, typically by arguing that the Supreme Court should overrule its 1984 decision in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza not to enforce the exclusionary rule in civil immigration court. This Essay, in contrast, considers the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys in upholding the Fourth Amendment, taking as a launching point the recent exercise of prosecutorial discretion by ICE attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina in cases arising from systemic unlawful policing.


Part I briefly describes how ICE's lawyers in the Charlotte immigration court have closed deportation cases against noncitizens arrested through unlawful policing by local officers in North Carolina, following a Department of Justice report on the discriminatory targeting of Latinos in Alamance County, North Carolina. The Essay then explores two potential bases for an ICE prosecutor’s decision to take remedial action when arresting officers violate the constitution. First, Part II examines ICE prosecutors’ constitutional responsibilities as executive branch attorneys in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to underenforce the Fourth Amendment in the context of immigration arrests. Part III then considers whether ICE’s remedial actions in North Carolina comport with internal agency guidelines for exercising prosecutorial discretion in deportation cases.

 

October 29, 2013 in Fourth Amendment, Search, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Oct. 27, 2013

Judge dismisses false arrest lawsuit in which the wrong man was arrested and held in prison for five days before police realized their mistake.

Macy's now joined with Barney's in scandal over allegations that the businesses profiled black shoppers making expensive purchases and detained them, while Barney's vows to review its policies.

Wisconsin becomes latest state to consider enacting legislation criminalizing revenge porn.

Protesters marched in Washington on Saturday decrying the NSA's online surveillance program.

FBI investigates the recent killing by police of 13-year-old carrying a plastic gun.

 

October 27, 2013 in 14th Amendment, Civil Rights Litigation, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Reasonableness, Revenge Porn, Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0)