The D.C. Court of Appeals has held on the state of forensic science-that handwriting comparison and identification, as practiced by FBI examiners, passes the Frye test for admissibility. The case came about as a result of the findings in the 2009 NRC report that concluded, “With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, . . . no forensic method [of ‘matching’] has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.”
Labor and Employment Law Related:
Law Enforcement Needs No Warrant for Phone Number:
7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals out of Chicago has ruled that police may search a cell phone for its number without obtaining a warrant. The phone number on the cell phone, which is effectively a computer, was seized from the defendant at the time of arrest in a narcotics bust. It was used to subpoena the owner’s call history, revealing conversations with co-conspirators. Judge Richard Posner, writing for the three-judge panel hearing arguments in this case on January 25 and which was decided February 29, compared a cell phone not only to a computer, but to a pocket diary. He wrote: “If police are entitled to open a pocket diary to copy the owner’s address, they should be entitled to turn on a cellphone to learn its number.” Furthermore: “If allowed to leaf through a pocket address book, as they are … , they should be entitled to read the address book in a cellphone. If forbidden to peruse love letters recognized as such found wedged between the pages of the address book, they should be forbidden to read love letters in the files of a cellphone.”
Citing cases going back to the 1981 decision in New York v. Belson and the “Robinson Rule” it would be wise for professional investigators to take time to read Judge Posner’s 15-page decision. Many factors were considered, such as whether inspecting a cellphone is greater than the searching of a “container” or if such might actually be a “stun Gun.”
Although the actual make and model of the cell phone was never identified the decision noted “that an iPhone application called an iCam allows one to access a home computer’s webcam, thus allowing one to survey inside a home while a thousand miles away. Thus at the touch of a button a cell phone search becomes a house search, and not a search of a ‘container’ in any normal sense of that word, though a house contains data.”
Judge Posner’s decision ends: “But these are questions for another day, since police did not search the content’s of the defendant’s cell phone, but were content to obtain the cell phone’s phone number. – Affirmed”
Expect this Fourth Amendment issue to eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. It will have ramifications as controversial as the recent GPS tracking case of U.S. v. Jones.
The decision in USA v. Flores-Lopez is available at: http://www.abajournal.com/
HR 4112: Security Related:
Legislation introduced by Congressman Thomas Marino (R-PA-10), if passed, will allow DOJ Authorized Third Party Screeners to Conduct FBI Checks in Instances Where States Do Not Provide for Such.
The National Association of Security Companies (NASCO), representing contract private security companies, has endorsed H.R. 4112, the Private Security Officer Screening Improvement Act (PSOSIA), introduced March 6 by Representative Thomas Marino (R-PA-10).
In 2004, Congress passed the PSOEAA, the Private Security Officer Employment Authorization Act, recognizing the need for employers of private security officers to have access to an important criminal background check — the FBI criminal history record check. However, the PSOEAA required such checks to be conducted by a state government agency, and unfortunately, too many states still do not provide the checks for all security officers eligible to be checked under the PSOEAA. This effectively means that tens if not hundreds of thousands of security officers in the United States work without a full FBI check of their criminal history.
The PSOSIA amends the Private Security Officer Employment Authorization Act (PSOEAA) to allow Department of Justice authorized “screening entities” to conduct FBI checks on private security officers, as provided for in the PSOEAA, for authorized employers when such checks are not available from the State of employment.
“The PSOSIA will dramatically increase availability of FBI criminal background checks for all private security officers,” said Jeff Flint, Executive Director of NASCO, “and that will make the public safer. The public wants to know that when they rely on a private security officer for their safety as they do in so many venues, that officer has been subject to a background check. It’s that simple.”
The PSOSIA would allow employers of security officers, to go through a Department of Justice-authorized “screening entity” for an FBI check when the state of employment does not provide the check. A “screener” is defined as a third-party entity authorized by DOJ to access FBI criminal records and provide background checks for employers. Third party entities are already being used for congressionally authorized FBI background checks in fields such as banking, nursing homes, financial securities, and others. Their use should also be expanded to private security. ISPLA has been actively working to gain similar access for other entities and for additional purposes.
“NASCO has always been at the forefront of increasing standards and professionalism in private security,” continued Flint. “The current gap in the PSOEAA is a public safety and homeland security risk and it must be closed.
ISPLA supports this legislation and applauds NASCO’s work in lobbying for this important legislation. We also urge Congress to act quickly to adopt it.