Tag Archives: court

FBI Claims It Has Found ‘Outside Party’ To Break Into iPhone in San Bernardino Case

The night before Apple Inc. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were set to face off in court over whether Apple should be forced to create software to override the iPhone’s encryption, the FBI requested that the hearing be cancelled.

The court hearing set for Tuesday was over the case of the iPhone used by Syed Farook, a suspect in the San Bernardino shooting in December. After claiming that the only way to access the data on Farook’s iPhone was for Apple to create software to break the phone’s encryption, the FBI stated Monday night that the agency may have found another method to hack the phone.

[RELATED: Apple: Founding Fathers ‘Would Be Appalled,’ Accuses DoJ of Trying to ‘Rewrite History’]

In a court filing, the FBI asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym to vacate the hearing, claiming that on Sunday, “an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone.”

[pull_quote_center]Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.[/pull_quote_center]

The filing did not name the “outside party,” but proposed that to make time for testing to determine “whether it is a viable method,” the government should have until April 5 to submit a status report.

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]

Judge Pym granted the FBI’s request around 9:30 p.m. EST Monday. She sided with the agency in February, ruling that the All Writs Act of 1789 justified the government forcing Apple to create the software to decrypt the iPhone, in order to access information on the phone used by Farook.

In contrast, Brooklyn Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled on March 1 that the government cannot use the All Writs Act to force Apple to provide data from a locked iPhone, in the case of a suspect facing criminal drug charges in New York.

Orenstein wrote, “The implications of the government’s position are so far-reaching — both in terms of what it would allow today and what it implies about congressional intent in 1789 — as to produce impermissibly absurd results.”

[RELATED: NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple to Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case] 

Including the cases of the San Bernardino shooting suspect in California and the criminal drug suspect in New York, Apple is facing a total of 12 cases in which the FBI is pushing for the company’s help to gain access to encrypted data.

Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars Technica that while the FBI’s request to vacate the hearing could be “good news” for Apple, it is not the end of an escalating security struggle.

“As a practical matter, if the FBI’s new technique works, it likely means that Apple will add more protection to its devices, which is a good thing for consumers, and the FBI will be back in court in the future asking a judge to compel Apple to help the government defeat Apple’s improved security,” Cate said. “So the issue probably has been deferred, not resolved.”

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Judge orders man to pay $30K in child support for someone else’s child

A Detroit judge has ruled a man, who was unaware he was a “father,” must pay approximately $30,000 in child support after the man neglected to do so for close to twenty-five years.

In the early 1990’s, Carnell Alexander was pulled over by a police officer and this officer informed Alexander he was under arrest for being a deadbeat father. Alexander, however, was taken aback when he heard he was a deadbeat father, according to WXYZ.

What had happened was an ex-girlfriend of Alexander gave birth to a child in the late eighties, and in order to qualify for welfare assistance to raise the child, she needed to name a father on the appropriate paperwork. Even though the woman was aware Alexander was not the father, according to KFOR, she decided to put his name down anyways.

Usually, when a man is named the father of a child on such paperwork, the state sends a notice to the person via mail. However, Alexander was incarcerated, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections, so he would not have received the notice.

On Tuesday, Alexander went in front of the Third Judicial Circuit Court where Judge Kathleen McCarthy said she was outraged Alexander had failed to take this matter seriously. According to FOX 2 Now, McCarthy said Alexander should have filed a motion long ago to dispute his parentage of the child.

“That motion must be filed within 3 years after the child’s birth, or within one year after the order of filiation is entered,” said McCarthy. “The defendant has failed to to timely file this motion setting aside the acknowledgment of parentage.” It is here the court ruled Alexander must pay the $30,000 in child support for the child, who is now an adult.

According to CBS Detroit, Alexander took a paternity test in 2013 after he had tried to find the mother of the child for many years. The test proved he was not father of the child, but even though this evidence was provided to the courts in the past, they held to their decision to make Alexander pay for the child support. The court also said it would not help his case if he presented the mother of the child for the case.

Alexander acknowledges he may owe the money according to the fine print of the law, but he will not believe the fine print of the law is right. “The law is not going to fit into everybody’s situation,” said Alexander. “Why don’t they use common sense?”

TSA holds man for 20 hours after incident at airport

A traveler from Philadelphia, who was attempting to fly to Miami to run a half-marathon in January 2013, was detained by TSA agents for close to 20 hours after an airport incident.

Roger Vanderklok, 57, was detained by the TSA agents after he allegedly asked to file a complaint against the airport workers. Instead, Vanderklok was escorted to a holding cell. Once inside the cell, according to the AP, Vanderklok was not questioned by police officers or given the chance to call his wife for nearly a day.

According to Philly, Vanderklok had placed some PowerBars and a heart-monitoring watch for the race in his carry-on luggage which had looked suspicious to agents. After 30 minutes of explaining the items were in his luggage, Vanderklok asked to file the complaint.

Charles Kieser, the TSA supervisor on duty at the time, then allegedly became confrontational and had ordered Vanderklok to be placed in the cell.

Kieser testified at a criminal trial against Vanderklok in April 2013, he had monitored the interaction between Vanderklok and the agents and testified in court saying, “Hands were in the air. And it’s something we deal with regularly. But I don’t let it go on on my checkpoint.”

After watching the incident unfold, Kieser then says Vanderklok, “put his finger in my face. And he said, ‘Let me tell you something. I’ll bring a bomb through here any day I want.’ And he said you’ll never find it.”

However, airport surveillance videos do not backup Kieser’s account of what happens. Instead, Vanderklok allegedly appears calm on the footage and does not raise his hands in a menacing manner. The police report on the incident also shows Kieser told officers Vanderklok said “Anybody could bring a bomb in here…” which differs from what Kieser testifies Vanderklok had said.

Thomas Malone, Vanderklok’s lawyer, did not challenge the agents investigating the material in Vanderklok’s luggage, but he says the footage from the airport contradicts Kieser’s account of the incident.

Now, months after the initial trial, Malone filed a suit against the TSA, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and the Philadelphia Police Department, saying his client was stripped of his liberties because he wanted to file a complaint.

A TSA spokesman said the agency does not discuss pending lawsuits.

UN courts dismiss claims of genocide between Serbia and Croatia

The highest court within the UN has ruled the acts of war committed by Croatia and Serbia against the other’s population in the 1990’s does not qualify as genocide.

The International Court of Justice says they recognize acts of rape, torture, and widespread killings had taken place between the two countries, but by the formal definition of genocide, no such act was carried out during the conflict.

According to the official report, genocide implies there is a laid out plan to systematically wipe out an entire population of peoples and to prevent any further births from occurring within the targeted population. While the acts of war carried out were brutal, the court claims there was no such plan on either side.

According to NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, the decision should come as no surprise since the “U.N. courts have never charged any Serbs or Croats with genocide in each other’s territory.”

“The Croatian government alleged that Serbia committed genocide in the town of Vukovar and elsewhere in 1991,” said Nelson. “Tens of thousands of ethnic Croats were displaced, and hundreds of Croat men were detained and killed. Serbia later filed a counterclaim over the expulsion of more than 200,000 Serbs from Croatia.”

Peter Tomka, the president of the International Court of Justice, said, according to Reuters“Croatia has not established that the only reasonable inference was the intent to destroy in whole or in part the (Croatian) group.”

Tomka went on to say the desire to expel ethnic groups from towns and cities does not constitute genocide since the intention is not to destroy the groups. This also led Tomka to say Serbia’s counterclaim of genocide did not met the definition either, and therefore denied the country’s claim. 

The foreign minister of Croatia, Vesna Pusic, said, according to the New York Times, she hoped this ruling would help bring a “better and safer period for people in this part of Europe.” Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic of Serbia echoed these hopes.

Arizona immigrants are now applying for driver’s licenses

Many young immigrants in Arizona are enjoying their new level of protection from deportation under President Obama by putting in requests for driver’s licenses and identification cards on Monday.

According to the AP, young immigrants waited patiently outside of various Motor Vehicle Division offices throughout the state, and when the doors opened, a cheer from the crowd went up.   Reporters interviewed some young people who said they were excited to get their licenses and drive legally without the fear of getting pulled over.

Over the next few weeks, state officials have said they are expecting many more young immigrants to apply for licenses and ID cards.

This is a shift from Gov. Jan Brewer’s policy which initially denied licenses to an estimated 20,000 immigrants.  On Dec. 18 though, according to FOX News, U.S. District Judge David Campbell barred the state from enforcing Brewer’s policy.

Attorneys for Brewer have said the move to deny licenses to immigrants was based on liability concerns, as well as making sure immigrant license holders do not improperly access public benefit programs.

Brewer has since asked the Supreme Court to review the decision.

The transportation officials have said they will begin work immediately on processing the applications for licenses and IDs for eligible immigrants.  Those who are eligible for licenses and IDs are immigrants younger than 30 who came to the U.S. before they were 16, who have lived in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years, who are enrolled in or graduated from high school or an equivalent program, or those immigrants who have, or are, serving in the military.

Supreme Court rules an officer’s misunderstanding of a law is protected

A Supreme Court ruling on Monday found police officers who pull over a car for a traffic stop can search and seize the vehicle, even if the officer does not have a full understanding of the law used to pull the vehicle over.

The ruling comes after Nicholas Heien, a North Carolina resident, was pulled over in 2009 on the premise of a single broken taillight.  After being pulled over, the officer searched the vehicle and found a baggie of cocaine, and the officer then arrested Heien.

However, North Carolina law only requires one working taillight, so when the officer pulled over Heien, it would appear he had no legal right to do so.

The case was brought up to a North Carolina appeals court who, according to VOX, agreed the stop was unlawful.  The case was then heard by the state’s highest court and the Supreme Court, who both ruled in favor of the officer, saying even if the officer does not know the technical aspects of a law, a search and seizure is still constitutional.

“This Court held  that reasonable mistakes of law, like those of fact, could justify a certificate of probable cause,” reads the Court’s ruling.  The vehicle search, therefore, does not violate the Fourth Amendment, as was argued by Heien, which protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures without probable cause.  The Court said, “a search or seizure may be permissible even though the justification for the action includes a reasonable factual mistake.”

Ultimately, the Court found the Fourth Amendment requires officers to act reasonably, but not perfectly, since officers are human and make mistakes as well.  Chief Justice John Roberts said, according to the AP, an officer’s mistake of fact can rightly justify a traffic stop and therefore that misunderstanding can also satisfy the Constitution.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only member of the Court to disagree with the decision, saying an officer’s mistake or misunderstanding of a law, “no matter how reasonable, cannot support the individualized suspicion necessary to justify a seizure under the Fourth Amendment.”

LOTFI: Obama administration moves to virtually kill the internet?

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2014– Reports have been circulating that the Obama administration is trying to destroy the internet by killing off net-neutrality. In order to see if the claims check out, you need to meet Tom Wheeler. Just who is Tom Wheeler? If you credit Kathleen Sebelius with the death of the American healthcare system, you could soon credit Wheeler with the death of the internet, or at the very least, as we know it to be now. The Obama administration’s supposed plan is an innate result of crony corporatism and could well be their next big lie.

In November, 2013, President Obama appointed Wheeler to head-up the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). First, never mind that Wheeler raised more than $700,000 for Obama’s two elections.

Second, never mind that 2007 presidential candidate Obama made a solemn promise to protect internet neutrality while visiting Google headquarters in California.

“We have to ensure free and open exchange of information. That starts with an open internet. I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality. Because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose. The internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way.”

That promise is starting to sound a lot like Obama’s, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.” You know, the promise that won PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year.  Considering the current moves, the administration’s audacity to leave this net-neutrality campaign video posted on their official YouTube account is astonishingly insulting to proponents of net-neutrality.

Finally, never mind that Wheeler is a former cable and internet lobbyist giant. You know, one of those lobbyists that candidate Obama swore to never hire if he was elected. For decades, Wheeler is credited with lobbying for “deregulation” of the industry.

Is it not peculiar Obama would tap a man, the very man that supposedly wanted to deregulate the cable and internet industry, to lead the massive federal bureaucracy that regulates that very industry?

It’s not as strange as one may think. Two types of “small government” lobbyists exist. One truly wants the government out of everything. The other uses the government to deregulate his own business, while simultaneously lobbying for regulation or unfair disadvantages on competitors, which is often done under the guise consumer protectionism, or blatant corporate protectionism [Enter Wheeler].

So, what is net-neutrality or “open internet”?  In layman’s terms, net-neutrality is actually a government regulation pressed on internet service providers (ISPs). The regulation seeks to ensure that all ISPs enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and do so without favoring or blocking particular websites and products.

When approached from an economic vantage point, net-neutrality, in its most basic definition, actually inhibits the ISP free-market.

In most cases, those in favor of small government and free-markets would likely champion such deregulation. Meanwhile, those in favor of market regulation point to fears of censorship.

For example, an ISP like Comcast could limit its end-user subscribers’ ability to access BenSwann.com if it wanted to increase traffic (revenue) to a news website the company owned (MSNBC), or it could begin downgrading BenSwann.com’s connection quality if a friendly competitor like TheBlaze.com was willing to pay higher fees to knock out the competition.

The question we must ask is as follows: Does this deregulation actually move towards a more free marketplace? In this case, probably not. These corporatist giants have used the government to secure no bid contracts, geographical subscriber exclusivity and more. The companies are now formed into a government sponsored quasi-monopoly. This is corporatism- not free-market capitalism.

Last January, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FCC could not regulate net-neutrality. According to the Court plurality, the FCC lacked “regulatory jurisdiction” under the provided framework. Appellant Verizon seems to win the day. Net-neutrality is dead.

However, the Court left a loophole by stating that the FCC could rewrite the rules under a more acceptable framework.

“I intend to accept that invitation by proposing rules that will meet the court’s test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among Internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how Internet Service Providers manage traffic, and enhancing competition,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Preserving the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace is an important responsibility of this agency.”

But wait, isn’t Wheeler against net-neutrality and in favor of helping his old employers out? That’s what many headlines are reporting, and here is where things get confusing.

If one was to read the Verizon v. FCC case, it seems as though the FCC was trying to protect net-neutrality all along, and the Court ruled in favor of the corporations instead. Obama’s promise upheld. Right? After all, the administration can’t necessarily control what the Court says.

However, the Court gave the FCC the go-ahead to write rules under a new framework. Rather than continue and try to protect net-neutrality, reports now insinuate that the administration will re-write the rules to instead favor the giant ISPs Wheeler lobbied on behalf of for decades.

It is possible that the Verizon v. FCC case was a test case. Many such cases have been brought forth throughout the history of the federal judiciary. The goal of a test case is to figure out just what will be tolerated and in what way. Sometimes we know immediately whether or not a case is a test. However, it sometimes takes decades until such cases are exposed. In most all cases, the federal Court system now creates new tests, frameworks, and alternative ways for which a law or rule could be considered constitutional, or in this instance, within regulatory jurisdiction. This is one way the Court illegally legislates from the bench. The goal of such a test case could have been to get the Court to define ways to incorporate corporate protectionism into the FCC rules. Of course, at this time, this is only speculation. However, it would help to explain what happened next.

According to multiple reports, the FCC is playing a game of Orwellian semantics. While the commission maintains it is protecting net-neutrality, the reports show the new rules could kill net-neutrality by allowing ISPs to create a “fast lane internet”. The possibility of fast lane internet being incorporated into the new FCC rules validates the concerns of net-neutrality proponents.

Although the Court has already ruled that the FCC could not enforce net-neutrality, it seems as though Wheeler’s FCC is now attempting to use the Court’s new framework to write such protection into the actual FCC rules. This could allow ISPs an added layer of protection by throwing the weight of federal regulation on top of the Court’s ruling.

The new rules won’t be fully released until mid-May. For now, all is speculation.

Meanwhile, to fill in the gaps while we wait for new rules to be fully released, one should follow the money.

COMCAST

Brian Roberts, Comcast CEO, is good friends with Obama. He is regularly invited to the White House and has been golfing with Obama. In fact, Roberts even served on Obama’s jobs council. Comcast Vice President David Cohen has raised more than $2.2 million for Obama’s elections since 2007. Since 2008, Comcast has spent more than $91.2 million lobbying the government. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that Comcast is the parent company of the hard left-leaning Obama mouthpiece known as NBC Universal which operates the MSNBC cable news station.

TIME WARNER CABLE (TWC)

In 2008, TWC donated $618k to Obama’s election. In 2012, they donated $422k.  Since 2008, TWC has spent more than $25.5 million lobbying the government.

VERIZON

In 2008, Verizon donated more than $218k to Obama’s campaign. In 2012, Verizon donated $224k to Obama’s reelection campaign. Since 2008, Verizon has spent more than $97 million lobbying the government.

AT&T

In total, At&T has given Obama more than $484k for his two elections. The company has spent more than $30 million lobbying the government since 2008.

COX ENTERPRISES 

In 2008, Cox donated $64k to Obama’s campaign. In 2012, the group donated more than $47k. Since 2008, the group has spent more than $28 million lobbying the government.

Together, these five companies represent the top five ISPs in the country. They also represent Obama’s top donors. With Wheeler driving the FCC and Obama’s top campaign donors pulling the puppet strings, it is hard to imagine the administration actually fighting to maintain net-neutrality.

Government sanctioned neutrality is parallel to government sanctioned equality. Backlash and economic dead weight loss are the byproducts of such interference. With the ensuing death of net-neutrality, many are asking a similar question. Will it kill the internet? Doubtful. However, the government sponsored ISP quasi monopoly makes it too soon to tell.

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Federal Court: Entire NSA Program Unconstitutional

NSA Spying

UPDATE #1: Federal Judge rules Friday December 27, 2013 that NSA spying legal

By Michael Lotfi,

Judge Leon of the DC District Court has held that the NSA’s bulk data collection of telephony metadata violates the Fourth Amendment and has enjoined the entire program- stayed pending appeal. The ruling came hours ago.

Leon said, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

According to Leon, the plaintiffs have a very strong case pursuant to NSA Fourth Amendment violations. However, the ruling has been stayed pending appeal to the DC Circuit Court. This means no immediate action will be taken. The federal government will appeal this case to the Circuit Court. One may also expect the case to eventually reach the Supreme Court before a final disposition is handed down.

The government argued that special circumstances warranted the NSA’s spying. In the Court opinion Leon wrote, “No Court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion.”

This Court ruling equates to winning a battle. The war goes on.

You may read the entire filing bellow.

Follow Michael Lotfi On Facebook & Twitter: @MichaelLotfi

 

DC District Court Rules NSA Surveillance Unconstitutional.

Breaking News: Judge Rules On Detroit Bankruptcy- “Situation Unworkable”

Detroit

By Michael Lotfi,

The largest municipal bankruptcy in history was just allowed to move forward. US Bankruptcy Judge Steve Rhodes delivered the ruling, which declared the city could move forward with its plans for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Judge Rhodes ruled that objectors must appeal directly to the 6th Circuit and file separate motions. According to Judge Rhodes, “This situation has proved unworkable.” The struggling city is more than $18 billion in debt. The Detroit Free Press is updating live from the courthouse.

According to exiting Detroit Mayor Bing, “There’s going to be a lot of pain for a lot of different people. But in the long run, the future will be bright.” Last Summer the city first filed for bankruptcy after struggling for years to make payments to debtors. The city made headlines for pushing through plans to construct a new $444 million hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings with taxpayer money.

Last election cycle, President Obama praised Detroit and stated that because of his policies the city wouldn’t go bankrupt. “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way,” President Obama said in a weekly address.

Follow Michael Lotfi On Facebook & Twitter: @MichaelLotfi