4th Amendment

Yes, Florida Police Check UPS Packages for Drug Shipments

In the recent case of James Johns, III v. State of Florida, the Second District explains the basics of 4th Amendment “Terry stops” while also illuminating the techniques that Florida police use to catch drug shipments sent via UPS (and presumably other carriers). The court sets the scene this way: …

1st Amendment

Christopher Hopkins discusses First Amendment & Social Media at University of Miami Law School

A special thanks to professor Jan Jacobowitz for inviting me to speak about the First Amendment and Social Media as part of her Social Media and the Law class at the University of Miami Law School. Some of the cases we covered include: Elonis v US US v Elonis In …

4th Amendment

Can You Record Someone in Florida?

The question of whether you can record someone’s conversation in Florida arises frequently.  The answer lies first in a statute and second on the individual circumstances.  As a general rule, secretly recording someone in Florida is not going to lead to admissible evidence and could get the person who did …

4th Amendment

What Does Texas Shooting Case Tell Us About Subpoenas / Warrants for iPhone & iCloud Information?

  On November 5, 2017, 26-year old Devin Patrick Kelley allegedly shot and killed 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  Mr. Kelley’s body was reportedly recovered from a Ford Expedition; he was found deceased from a single bullet wound (entering above right ear and exiting …

1st Amendment

Conspiracy Professor James Tracy v. FAU – Court Ruling and Answers in a “story of two competing narratives”

Professor James Tracy was fired by Florida Atlantic University in January 2016 and filed suit shortly thereafter claiming, inter alia, his First Amendment rights were violated.  This case, you may recall, involves a South Florida professor who made national news claiming that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax.  Going back …

1st Amendment

Bad Month for Sandy Hook Truthers in Palm Beach, Florida: (1) James Tracy v FAU dismissed and (2) indictment in U.S. v. Lucy Richards

In unrelated court proceedings in West Palm Beach, Florida, two Sandy Hook Truthers suffered losses resulting in a dismissal and indictment, respectively.  A university professor who writes blog posts denying the Sandy Hook shooting received a sternly-worded Order of Dismissal which gutted several of his claims while permitting his lawyers a …

1st Amendment

Can Your Clients Be Convicted for Threats on Social Media?

A Florida high school student posted online, “Can’t WAIT to shoot up my school.”  “It’s time” and “School getting shot up on a Tuesday.” He was arrested for violating Florida Statute 836.10 (“written threats statute”).  Then he was convicted.  But the appellate court reversed. You can read the Florida Second …

4th Amendment
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Your House is Burning — Can the Fire Department Turn You In for Drugs and Guns in the House?

You may have constitutional protections in your house but the exigency of the circumstance gives constitutional permission to the first responders to enter your home.  Once the fire is extinguished, fire fighters are required to conduct an “administrative sweep” to confirm there is no other fire or danger.  During fire fighting or during …

4th Amendment

Police Cannot Perform a “Terry stop” just because someone is wearing a “funny hat”

A first degree murder conviction was overturned by the Fourth District Court of Appeal on August 31, 2016 due to the Court’s Fourth Amendment analysis of a bizarre description of the events.  In Lorenzo Sanchez v. State of Florida, the defendant/appellant was convicted of murder of a Pompano Beach convenience store …

1st Amendment

Former Conspiracy Theory Professor James Tracy Sues FAU

A former tenured professor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, Florida sued the school, president, trustees, as well as his former union and union representatives for inter alia wrongful termination and breach of contract premised upon First Amendment claims and a dispute over signing an “Outside Activity” form. This …

Constitutional Law

Mildly Serious Analysis of Ted Cruz and the “Dildo Case”

You may have heard, in the last week, a story involving Ted Cruz, when he was solicitor general for Texas, defending an anti-“obscene devices” statute (more blithely referred to as the “anti-dildo” law). The case is Reliable Consultants, Inv. d/b/a Dreamer’s and Le Rouge Boutique / PHE, Inc. d/b/a Adam …

4th Amendment

No Daubert Expert Witness Needed to Identify Marijuana, Rules Florida Court

The Third District Court of Appeal ruled in L.L., a Juvenile v. The State of Florida that a police officer who possessed sufficient personal experience with marijuana could offer a lay opinion — not an expert opinion — identifying the substance as marijuana.  The court held that meeting the five elements …

4th Amendment
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Find My iPhone Signal = Reasonable Suspicion for Police Investigatory Stop

The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled on April 6, 2016 that a location signal from a robbery victim’s stolen iPhone provided the requisite “reasonable suspicion” to permit the police to make an investigatory stop of the suspects.  The court ruled that the evidence was properly admitted and the …

1st Amendment

Christopher Hopkins “Anatomy of an Internet Defamation Case” at University of Miami Law School

I am pleased to discuss “Anatomy of an Internet Defamation Case” with Professor Jan Jacobowitz‘s Social Media & the Law class at the University of Miami Law School. In this presentation, we briefly discuss Elonis v. United States and we analyze the claims, defenses, and potential strategies of a pending …

4th Amendment

Christopher Hopkins Speaks on Data Breach Law at Florida Atlantic University

Thanks to professor and attorney Larry Buck for inviting me to speak today about Data Breach & Cyber Security Law at Florida Atlantic University. We discussed:  Standing: how the Clapper case was filed too soon, they lost in the Supreme Court, and then three months later it was revealed, beyond their …