Judges forces defendant to decrypt laptop

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by Quantum Windbag, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Quantum Windbag
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    Quantum Windbag Gold Member

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    This is going to SCOTUS, and I hope the government looses.

    Judge forces defendant to decrypt laptop, fuels debate over Fifth Amendment rights -- Engadget
     
  2. George Costanza
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    George Costanza A Friendly Liberal

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    We need to see the applicable wording of the All Writs Act. Clearly, the feds have a right to have seized her laptop - they had a warrant. At first glance, it would seem that forcing her to decrypt the laptop would be a violation of her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. That right may be trumped by the All Writs Act, however - unless, of course, The Supremes find that the applicable provions of the AWA are themselves unconstitutional.

    But wait a second - that would mean The Supremes would have to make a ruling that favored persons charged with crimes. Not likely.
     
  3. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    the court has generally defined "self incrimination" pretty narrowly. it's not that the AWA would "trump" the Fifth Amendment, since legally no statute *could* trump the constitution. But they can continue to narrowly define the right....which I would fully expect them to do, as you noted.
     
  4. Truthmatters
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    Truthmatters BANNED

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    its legally obtained evidence.

    If they had taken a DVD player with a DVD in it that incriminated her it would be the same dont you think?

    Its a possesion that contains possible incriminating evidence.

    Its not her brain.
     
  5. George Costanza
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    George Costanza A Friendly Liberal

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    I agree with both you and TM on this. I misspoke when I said that a statute could trump the 5th (or any) Amendment. (Although, I did leave myself somewhat of an out by noting that the statute would govern unless the Supremes found it unconstitutional.)

    When one considers the trend in the appellate courts over the years regarding forcing defendants to turn over evidence, I suspect that the feds are gong to win this one. Defendants can be forced to provide blood samples, hair samples and other items of evidence that can well be incriminating. The argument there is that the 5th only protects "testimonial" evidence, rather than real or physical evidence. Not too much of a stretch to ooze over into other things defendant's can be forced to provide that border on testimonial evidence. What they usually do is approach the issue from an entirely different angle.

    Believe me - the pendulum is WELL to the right when it comes to rights of the accused.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  6. Quantum Windbag
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    Quantum Windbag Gold Member

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    I actually found out from another source that they granted her immunity, so the 5th doesn't apply. My guess is that this decision will hold up, but I still object to people being forced to decrypt anything just to make it easier for the government to prosecute them.
     
  7. Quantum Windbag
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    Quantum Windbag Gold Member

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    No. A computer can contain all sorts of things that are actually irrelevant to the prosecution, it is more like them going into your house and taking your diary and/or journal.
     
  8. Quantum Windbag
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    Quantum Windbag Gold Member

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    I have high hopes for Sotomayor, she actually seems to hold privacy sacred, and understands how technology can easily be used to accomplish things that were unthinkable a few years ago.
     
  9. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    sotomayor is a "law and order' type. but you can keep hoping.
     
  10. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    which they'd be allowed to search if they had a warrant to do so.

    same as here.
     

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