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Report: 7th Circuit Upholds Warrantless Entry, Seizure of Gun Rights Activist

Photo Credit: Reuters

Photo Credit: Reuters

Milwaukee police who forced their way into a gun rights advocate’s home without a warrant, took her for an emergency mental evaluation and seized her gun were justified under the circumstances and protected from her civil rights claims, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Krysta Sutterfield, who twice made news because of her practice of openly carrying a handgun — at a Brookfield church and outside a Sherman Park coffee shop — drew police attention in 2011 after her psychiatrist reported a suicidal remark Sutterfield made during a difficult appointment.

Sutterfield, 45, claimed police violated her rights against unreasonable search and seizure and Second Amendment rights to keep a gun, but a district judge dismissed the case.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 75-page opinion analyzing existing law about when police may act without search warrants, upheld the decision but suggested there might be better ways to balance personal privacy rights in the context of emergency mental health evaluations.

“The intrusions upon Sutterfield’s privacy were profound,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for three-judge panel. “At the core of the privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment is the right to be let alone in one’s home.”

Read more from this story HERE.

Bill Co-Sponsored by Mike Lee to Require Search Warrants for Fed’s Access to Your Email Gaining Steam

Photo Credit: Social BIz SolutionsThe chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing to fast-track legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other private online messages.

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) goal is for the Senate to unanimously approve his bill before the August recess, according to one of his committee aides. Any opposition could delay a vote until after Congress returns in the fall.

He has secured unanimous support from his fellow Democrats and is in negotiations with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, and other Republicans to address their concerns.

Leahy’s aide claimed that even if a floor vote is delayed until after the recess, they are already “way past” the 60 votes they would need to overcome a filibuster and approve the bill, which is co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Lee (Utah).

Gregory Nojeim, a senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology and a supporter of stronger privacy protections, said that the news of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs has given Leahy’s bill a new boost of momentum.

Read more from this story HERE.

California Cops Break Into House Without a Warrant, Tase Man Who Complains About Police State and It’s All on Video

Photo Credit: West Midlands PoliceIn this video, a group of officers arrive at a home and, through a closed screen door, demand that the occupants come outside.

The unidentified man inside, along with his female companion, demand that the officers produce a warrant, but they don’t.

When the police continue to demand that they come outside, and order that both occupants raise their hands, the man responds that he doesn’t live in a police state with martial law. He also warns the police that he is video-recording everything.

Eventually, the police breakthrough a side door and tase the man with the video camera. It sounds as if his female companion may have been tased as well.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Warrant: The Disturbing, Unchecked Rise of the Administrative Subpoena

When Golden Valley Electric Association of rural Alaska got an administrative subpoena from the Drug Enforcement Administration in December 2010 seeking electricity bill information on three customers, the company did what it usually does with subpoenas — it ignored them.

That’s the association’s customer privacy policy, because administrative subpoenas aren’t approved by a judge.

But by law, utilities must hand over customer records — which include any billing and payment information, phone numbers and power consumption data — to the DEA without court warrants if drug agents believe the data is “relevant” to an investigation. So the utility eventually complied, after losing a legal fight earlier this month.

Meet the administrative subpoena: With a federal official’s signature, banks, hospitals, bookstores, telecommunications companies and even utilities and internet service providers — virtually all businesses — are required to hand over sensitive data on individuals or corporations, as long as a government agent declares the information is relevant to an investigation. Via a wide range of laws, Congress has authorized the government to bypass the Fourth Amendment — the constitutional guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that requires a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge.

In fact, there are roughly 335 federal statutes on the books passed by Congress giving dozens upon dozens of federal agencies the power of the administrative subpoena, according to interviews and government reports.

Read more from this story HERE.