Author Topic: Texas court addresses cellphone tracking in digital age privacy case  (Read 237 times)

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Online Elderberry

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Austin American-Statesman by  Chuck Lindell 1/19/2019

Dealing once again with privacy rights in the digital age, the state’s highest criminal court has upheld the murder conviction of a Lamar County man who argued that police violated his rights when they “pinged” his cellphone to find his real-time location without a search warrant.

It was the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ first in-depth foray into a developing area of law since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last summer that privacy rights extend to cellphone information that shows a person’s location and movement.

The Texas case involves Christian Sims, who is serving a 35-year prison term for the December 2014 shooting death of his grandmother, Annie Sims, on the porch of her home.

Now 20, Sims was arrested in Oklahoma after cellphone data provided by Verizon Wireless placed him at a motel off the Indian Nation Turnpike. Lamar County sheriff’s officials, fearing Sims was armed and a danger to the public, had faxed a Verizon-provided “Emergency situation disclosure” to the company, which responded by divulging the location of Sims’ cellphone several times while Oklahoma police closed in.

The controversy arose after a sheriff’s official acknowledged that there had been time to seek a search warrant from a judge, but officers went directly to Verizon instead.

Defense lawyers moved to have evidence related to the cellphone search withheld from Sims’ trial. When the district judge refused, Sims pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors that included a 35-year sentence and preserved his right to appeal issues related to the cellphone evidence.

Expectation of privacy?

Sims, however, lost the next round when a state appeals court declined to order a new trial with the search evidence suppressed, so he appealed again.

Last year, the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to hear Sims’ case to determine if suspects have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to real-time cellphone location records.

Sims’ lawyers argued that the Supreme Court, in June’s ruling in Carpenter v. U.S., acknowledged that cellphone owners have a Fourth Amendment right that protects their location information from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

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Offline Sanguine

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Re: Texas court addresses cellphone tracking in digital age privacy case
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2019, 02:27:25 PM »
Cui bono?

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