1st Amendment

Three Steps to Understanding Why Government Officials Cannot Block Users on Social Media (Knight First Amendment Institute et al. v. Donald J. Trump et al.)

There is some confusion about the recent Second Circuit opinion as to how, on a private social media platform, a government official, using a personal account, cannot block other users. The following three step process should lead just about everyone to understand the outcome. The case is Knight First Amendment …

1st Amendment

“Valid Grounds for Employment Action” Deemed Not Enough for Stalking Injunction under F.S. 784.048 (Klenk v. Ransom)

Florida’s First District Court of Appeal held today that a respondent’s behavior may be enough for an “employment action” (presumably, for termination due to sexual harassment) but, in this case, was not enough for the “exacting standard” for an injunction against stalking under Florida Statute 748.048. The case is Joseph …

1st Amendment

Applying “Old” Laws to New Technology: Smartphones, Recordings, Privacy (at FAU)

Special thanks to attorney / instructor Larry Buck for inviting me to speak to his Florida Atlantic University “Law in the Real World” honors class about my practice, particularly how we apply traditional laws to new, emerging technologies. We discussed: drone regulation First Amendment and social media (US v. Hobgood, …

4th Amendment

Can A State Search Cellphone of Person on Probation Without Warrant or Probable Cause? (Florida v. Mark Leroy Phillips, Sr.)

Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal considered the question whether, under the Fourth Amendment, the State of Florida could search the cellphone of a man on probation for child abuse convictions (and who was a registered sex offender) when there was no warrant or reasonable suspicion. The court, in Florida …

1st Amendment

Is a Demand for an Apology = Extortion? (Social Media & First Amendment:U.S. v. Hobgood)

In the song, “Hello,” Adele sings as a jilted lover, calling “a thousand times… to tell you I’m sorry.” It became a hit song in 2015. Contrast that with the facts of U.S. v. Hobgood, out of the Eighth Circuit, where the defendant had a brief romantic relationship with “KB,” …

1st Amendment

3D Gun Printing: Bad Idea the First Amendment Likely Will Permit

I read with interest Thomas Julin‘s article, “Weaponized First Amendment Does Not Protect Blueprints for Weapons” in the Daily Business Review. The link is here. Tom sets out the current status of the debate, cites an authority, and concludes that the First Amendment “will not protect publication of information for …

Constitutional Law

South Dakota v Wayfair – A Dormant Commerce Clause Case Will Likely Hit Intenet Etsy and Ebay Sellers with State Sales Tax

If you sell enough on Etsy and eBay, you may find yourself having to report sales tax in your buyers’ states. A recent opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court, South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. et al., is likely going to lead to new hassles for internet merchants, including possibly individual …

4th Amendment

US Supreme Court Touches on Social Media (Facebook) Discovery in Collins v. Virginia (2018)

On May 29, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a case involving a Fourth Amendment search of a motorcycle parked on the curtilage of a home.  In Collins v. Virginia (8-1), SCOTUS held that a motorcycle parked in an enclosed area of a driveway was within the curtilage of the …

1st Amendment

Trump Cannot Block Twitter Users: Knight First Amendment Institute et al. v. Trump et al.

A federal judge in the Southern District of New York has issued a 75-page Memorandum and Order concluding that President Trump cannot block Twitter users because aspects of his @realdonaldtrump account is a government-controlled forum and Trump’s viewpoint-based exclusion of the plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by …

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 …