Archive for the 'Federal Courts' Category


Appeals Court to Redo Hearing That Went Unrecorded

In an unprecedented mulligan, the federal appeals court in Chicago decided to redo oral arguments in a local terrorism case after it was revealed earlier this week that court personnel failed to record the initial hearing.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the surprise announcement on Friday, one day after the court clerk made headlines by acknowledging his staff had “screwed up” in not recording the audio of historic arguments over whether attorneys for Adel Daoud should be allowed to view confidential surveillance documents filed in the case.


7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Screwed Up Recording

The clerk of the federal appeals court in Chicago said his office “screwed up” in not recording the audio of historic arguments over whether attorneys for a local terrorism suspect should be allowed to view confidential surveillance documents filed in the case.

Gino Agnello, the clerk for the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, said employees in charge of turning on the recording equipment were intimidated by the unprecedented security surrounding the case and mistakenly thought they weren’t supposed to record it. Before the arguments began, a U.S. Department of Justice team had swept the courtroom for bugs, and extra security measures remained in place for the hearing in the case of Adel Daoud, he said.


Lawyers Spar on Secret-Court Documents in Chicago

A federal appeals court in Chicago has heard oral arguments over surveillance issues highlighted during the past year by disclosures from onetime government contractor Edward Snowden.

During oral arguments, a government attorney asked a three-judge panel to reverse a trial court’s ruling granting a terrorist suspect’s lawyers unprecedented access to secret intelligence-court records.

Prosecutor William Ridgway says letting the defense see Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court documents would be a first, and that it could harm national security.


Court Sides With US in Cell-Tracking Records Case

The Justice Department does not have to turn over information on cases involving warrantless cellphone tracking if the cases ended without a defendant’s conviction, a divided federal appeals court ruled in upholding privacy protections for people acquitted of crimes.

The ruling came in a public records lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had requested information on federal cases in which law enforcement had obtained cellphone tracking data without a warrant to track a user’s whereabouts.


FISA Court Rejected Verizon Challenge to NSA Calls Program

Verizon in January filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s program that collects billions of Americans’ call-detail records, but a surveillance court rejected it, according to newly declassified documents and individuals with knowledge of the matter.

In denying the phone company’s petition in March, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer embraced the arguments put forth by the government that the program is constitutional in light of a Supreme Court decision in 1979 that Americans have no expectation of privacy in dialing phone numbers.


Bloggers Have First Amendment Protections

A federal appeals court ruled that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.

The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure, which could have invoked an even higher standard of showing the writer acted with malice, but the issue was of public concern, so the negligence standard applied.


Court Grants Secrecy for Memo on Phone Data

A federal appeals court ruled that the Obama administration may continue to withhold a Justice Department memo that apparently opened a loophole in laws protecting the privacy of consumer data.

The memo establishes the legal basis for telephone companies to hand over customers’ calling records to the government without a subpoena or court order, even when there is no emergency, according to a 2010 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The details of the legal theory, and the circumstances in which it could be invoked, remain unclear.

June 2019
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