January 30, 2019

Will we take advantage of a Fourth Amendment game changer?

The perfect follow-up to the landmark Carpenter decision #4thAmend Retweet

Together, we won a landmark decision with a series of Fourth Amendment, “get a warrant,” amicus briefs. Your investment in action paid off! Now, we’re seeking to capitalize on this victory.

The landmark victory came last year, in the “Carpenter case” – (Timothy) Carpenter v. U.S. And the new case is one we’ve briefed before: Zodhiates v. United States.

Fourth Amendment matters

We want the Supreme Court to take up Zodhiates appeal and apply Carpenter.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh called Carpenter a “game changer.” He wasn’t alone. Another observer said there would likely to be two eras of Fourth Amendment interpretation, “before Carpenter and after Carpenter.”

Until Carpenter, nearly anything you shared with a vendor (third party) could be obtained by a prosecutor without a warrant. This so-called “reasonable exception” to the Fourth Amendment was called the “third-party doctrine.”

With third-party doctrine, each technological advance was killing a bit more of your privacy. Nowhere was this more evident than your cell phone.

The police wanted Timothy Carpenter’s personal location information (usually called, CSLI – cell site location information), and they didn’t use a warrant to obtain it.

In the Carpenter decision, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority…

  • re-expanded the expectation of privacy doctrine
  • put the third-party doctrine on life support

Certainly, Roberts reasoned, we’re not required to trade away our Fourth Amendment rights in order to live in the 21st century!

But a victory doesn’t become “landmark” automatically. It requires reinforcements — other cases that build upon the precedent.

That’s where Zodhiates comes in. It’s likely to be one of the first two test cases of the Carpenter decision. And the issue in Zodhiates is identical to Carpenter.

As we explained when we were writing our first brief in the Zodhiates case, prosecutors were able to obtain 28 months worth of his cell phone records, both calls and GPS data, from nTelos/Sprint. Instead of getting a warrant, Sprint handed the records over at the prosecutor’s request.

As things were working, right up through Carpenter, regardless of who your cell phone provider was, they can do the same with you or someone you love. They can just skip the warrant and snag all of your information, no matter how broad.

Thus, Zodhiates is a perfect follow-up on Carpenter. Plus…

Together, we’ve been involved with the Zodhiates case from the start. This new Supreme Court brief will be the third we’ve filed in this case.

Indeed, we wrote about our long-term, post-Carpenter plan for the Zodhiates case last September, when we filed an amicus brief to help request a rehearing by the Second Circuit. I recommend revisiting that encouraging report if the details interest you…

How YOU are re-STUFFING the Fourth Amendment

The government is pretending that because prosecutors acted in “good faith,” Carpenter doesn’t apply. So Philip Zodhiates began serving his three-year sentence in Kentucky on December 6, 2018.

His attorneys are now requesting that the Supreme Court consider his appeal. This is called a Petition for Certiorari (cert, for short) – and we’re filing an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of the cert.

Our goal is to reinforce, if not expand Carpenter. And we need your financial support to make this brief possible.

If you make a one-time contribution or monthly pledge, we’ll email you the completed amicus, right after it’s submitted.

Support the Brief

The Supreme Court has highly specific submission requirements. There’s a substantial printing cost due to this specialized process.

If (through February 6) you become a Zodhiates “Cert” Patron by…

– Make a $200 one-time contribution
– Start a new pledge of $20 or more
– Increase an existing pledge so that it equals $20 or more

…we’ll send a printed copy to your postal mailbox PLUS we’ll recognize you, by name, in an upcoming newsletter.

Support the Brief

DownsizeDC.org partners with the Downsize DC Foundation (home of the Zero Aggression Project) so that your contributions can be tax-deductible. When you click the button above, you’ll be taken to the Zero Aggression Project contribution form.

Thank you for being an ACTIVE DC Downsizer,

Jim Babka, President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.
& Downsize DC Foundation (home of the Zero Aggression Project)

P.S. A potential patron wishes to protect his privacy. He chooses to send $199 so that his name isn’t put on the public list. There’s no need. On the contribution form, he should check the box on the line that reads, “Please don’t use my support to encourage others to give, by sharing my name on public lists” AND contribute $300 instead!

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