Does Forced Decryption Violate the Fifth Amendment?

Can the government force a suspect to give up the encryption keys to his/her computer hard drives, to provide evidence to convict the suspect with? Does this violate the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self incrimination? This issue hasn’t yet been directly addressed by the Supreme Court.

“Federal prosecutors have formally dropped demands that a child-porn suspect give up his encryption keys in a closely watched case, but experts warn the issue of forced decryption is very much alive and is likely to encompass a larger swath of Americans as crypto adoption becomes mainstream.”

Read the entire story at Wired.com

If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated, a consultation with a competent and insured Civil Rights attorney can make all the difference.  Call the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association for a referral at 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

 

keys_woodleywonderworks

Photo by woodleywonderworks at Flickr Creative Commons

SCOTUS to Decide Warrantless Blood Tests for DUI

Can a person suspected of drunk driving be compelled to submit to a blood test without a warrant?  That is the question before the U. S. Supreme Court today.

Blood Draw by Joshua/Yoon Hernandez at Flickr Creative Common

In October of 2010, a Missouri man, Tyler McNeely, was stopped by the  Missouri State Highway Patrol for speeding, after having a beer at a local bar.  Noticing signs of intoxication, the patrolman requested McNeely to submit to an alcohol breath test or blood test, which he refused.

After arresting McNeely,  Cpl. Mark Winder decided to take McNeely to the hospital for a blood test to “secure evidence of intoxication,” without first obtaining a warrant.

That nonconsensual blood test — considered a “search” in legalese — is at issue in front of the Supreme Court, which is expected to clarify when and under what circumstances a warrantless search can occur in such cases.

In court papers, lawyers for Missouri say that Winder didn’t attempt to obtain a search warrant prior to the blood test in part because, “Obtaining a search warrant in the middle of the night in Cape Girardeau County involves a delay, on average, of approximately two hours.”

Winder was concerned about the rate of elimination of alcohol in the bloodstream, which diminishes over time.

It turns out McNeely’s blood alcohol level was 0.154 percent, well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent . In court, McNeely moved to suppress the evidence against him, saying his constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure were violated.

The trial court agreed with McNeely and found that “the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream alone was not a sufficient factor to justify a warrantless blood draw in a routine stop.”  The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.  The Supreme Court will hear the case today.

Read the entire story by Ariane De Vogue at ABC.com.

If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to attorneys who specifically handle civil rights violations.  Call 603-229-0002 or submit an online referral request.

 

 

 

 

NH’s New Voter ID Law

Photo by Theresa Thompson

From the NH Secretary of State’s Office:

During the 2012 legislative session the legislature passed House Bill 1354, also known as the “Voter ID” Law. The new law will phase-in a photo identification requirement over a period of time.

This explanatory document is required under the “Voter ID” law as part of the process of educating the public about the law’s requirements and application and outlines the law’s requirements for 2012.

What type of photo ID will I need in order to vote?
For any election before Sept. 1, 2013, you will be asked to provide one of the following: Driver’s license issued by any state (even if expired); ID card issued by NH DMV (Division of Motor Vehicles); U.S. Armed Services ID card; U.S. Passport (even if expired); Valid photo ID card issued by either the federal government or a state, county or municipal government; Valid student ID card Other photo ID deemed legitimate by the supervisors of the checklist, the moderator, or the clerk; or Verification of identity by a supervisor of the checklist, the moderator or the clerk.

What if I do not have an approved photo ID?
Before November 1, 2012, any voter who does not present an approved photo ID will be informed of the new law and permitted to vote.  Between November 1, 2012 and September 1, 2013, any voter who does not present an approved photo ID will be permitted to vote after executing a “challenged voter affidavit.”

A voter who does not have an approved photo ID may obtain a free photo ID for voting purposes only by presenting a voucher from their town/city clerk or the Secretary of State to any NH DMV office that issues identification.

Is there any post-election action required by me after I vote without an approved photo ID?
After November 1, 2012, if you filled out a “challenged voter affidavit” in order to vote on Election Day, you will receive a verification letter from the Secretary of State, requesting confirmation that you voted in the election. If you do not respond in writing to the Secretary of State within 90 days of the date it was mailed, the Attorney General will conduct an investigation to determine whether fraudulent voting occurred.

Where can I get more information?  Your city or town clerk or the Secretary of State

Female Inmates Sue for Equal Treatment

Four female inmates, incarcerated at the NH State Prison for Women in Goffstown, are suing the state over what they say is unequal treatment compared with male inmates incarcerated at the NH State Prison.

In an article written by staff writer Joseph Cote of the Nashua Telegraph:

The four inmates filed a suit in Merrimack County Superior Court on Monday alleging the state Department of Corrections hasn’t abided by a 1987 federal court order that it provide female inmates with services including vocational education, work, mental health and substance abuse treatment, education and housing programs comparable to those offered to men.

It’s not the first time the state’s treatment of women in prisons has come under fire. The suit comes a year after a federal civil rights committee lambasted the state over its treatment of female inmates.

The women are being represented by New Hampshire Legal Assistance and Devine, Millimet & Branch.

Read the entire story.

Discrimination affects people in all segments of our population.  The Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer attorneys who specifically handle discrimination and civil rights issues.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Barbed wire image by Fiona Dalwood - Creative Commons

 

 

 

Justices Approve Strip-Searches for Any Arrest

Adam Liptak, correspondent for the NY Times wrote on April 2, 2012:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs, but also public health and information about gang affiliations.

“Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” Justice Kennedy wrote, adding that about 13 million people are admitted each year to the nation’s jails.

The procedures endorsed by the majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities. According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures.

Read the entire story.

Being arrested is no picnic, and dealing with an arrest without an attorney can have serious consequences.  The Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can connect you with an attorney  skilled with handling criminal matters.   All attorneys must meet specific education and experience criteria before receiving referrals from LRS in felony criminal matters.  Call LRS at 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.

Report Bullying and Harassment of LGBT Students

Have you or someone you know experienced LGBT based bullying, harassment, or discrimination in school?

According to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), you are not alone:

Approximately 85% of high school students report being harassed in school because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and 64% of students report being harassed for being too masculine or too feminine. Even more troubling, only 18% of LGBT students report that their schools have policies which offer comprehensive protections.

Without  adequate statewide protections, what can members of school communities do to address these issues?

We can take action to ensure LGBT students claim their rights, create a record measuring anti-LGBT harassment, and use this record to advocate laws and policies that will address this epidemic plaguing our nation’s schools.

Empowering school communities with this information , and delivering reports to the U.S. Education Department is a critical first step in claiming our rights and getting the tools to create change and build safer schools. We need your help in this important educational and advocacy effort.

GLSEN recommends  that if you – or someone that you know – have experienced school-based bullying, harassment, or discrimination, please file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Education Department today.  For more information on how to file a complaint, visit GLSEN’s website.

For information regarding New Hampshire’s anti-bullying law and other resources check out Bully Free New Hampshire.

For discrimination matters in areas of employment, public accommodations and the sale or rental of housing or commercial property, because of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability or national origin contact the NH Commission for Human Rights.

The Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association has a panel of competent attorneys experienced with handling discrimination matters.  Most discrimination claims are time-sensitive so call LRS today at 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.

Bill Would Eliminate Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints used to catch drunk drivers, organized by NH police departments would be eliminated by NH House Bill 1452.  A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, February 2 at 11 am., as reported by Matthew Spolar of the Concord Monitor.

“My concern is we’re giving up our right to travel freely,” said Republican Rep. George Lambert of Litchfield, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It allows (the police) to do all kinds of investigations for which they did not have original probable cause.”

Lambert and Rep. Seth Cohn of Canterbury, also a freshman Republican, see the checkpoints as running counter to the Fourth Amendment’s barring of unreasonable search and seizures. Cohn said the checkpoints give law enforcement “carte blanche to stop people ostensibly for sobriety.”

Read the full story.

Whether you are arrested at a check point or you’re pulled over on the road, you should not face a DUI on your own.  A lawyer can make a difference!  Call the Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association for a referral to a competent attorney who specifically handles DUI cases.  603-229-0002 or request an online referral

Supreme Court Rules on GPS Tracking By Police

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that police need a warrant if they wish to use a GPS tracking device on a suspect’s vehicle.

National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg explained to Paul Brown:

“At issue here is the case of Antoine Jones, a Washington, D.C. night club owner. Police put a GPS tracking device on his car for 30 days. That helped authorities find a stash of money and drugs.”

“The Supreme Court decided today that placing a GPS device on a vehicle constitutes a search, so they need a warrant. The AP reports that Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the court’s main opinion.”

 
Read the complete story.

If you believe your civil rights have been violated, call the NH Lawyer Referral Service at 603-229-0002 for a referral to an attorney who specifically handles constitutional law.  You may also request a referral online.

Is a Drug Dog’s Sniff a Warrantless Search?

The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a Florida case challenging the constitutionality of using a drug-sniffing dog in a warrantless search outside a home suspected of being a marijuana grow house.

As reported in the Huffington Post:

“The case, Florida v. Jardines, comes up from the state Supreme Court, which ruled that Franky the narcotics dog’s outside odor detection was “a substantial government intrusion into the sanctity of the home and constitutes a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.” Florida’s high court pointed to a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, that found police use of a thermo-imaging device to detect tell-tale heat emanating from a suspected grow house violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches.”

Click to read the entire article .

If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated, the Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can refer you to competent attorneys who have experience handling constitutional law issues.  Call 603-229-0002 for a referral or submit the online request form.

Do You Know Your Rights?

Should you refuse a request from a police officer to search your car?  How should you refuse a search request?  When do you have to show ID?  Is a police officer allowed to lie to you? 

For answers to these and other questions  in the form of short video reenactments and basic FAQs, visit http://flexyourrights.org/, a non-profit whose mission it is to educate the public on how the basic Bill of Rights protections apply during encounters with law enforcement.