Fourth Amendment Center

NACDL's Fourth Amendment Center offers direct assistance to defense lawyers handling cases involving new surveillance tools, technologies and tactics that infringe on the constitutional rights of people in America. The Center is available to help members of the defense bar in bringing new Fourth Amendment challenges.

           

 To request assistance or additional information, contact 4AC@nacdl.org.

 

About the Center Training and Webinars Reports and Publications Amicus Briefs Litigation Support

 

Launched in April 2018, the Fourth Amendment Center seeks to build a robust legal infrastructure to challenge outdated legal doctrines that undermine privacy rights in the digital age. To this end, the Center is available to provide litigation assistance in cases raising new Fourth Amendment concerns, including:

   

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Defense lawyers with cases involving any of these issues are encouraged to contact the Center. The Center is available to provide consultations and litigation resources as well as direct assistance in support of a defendant’s Fourth Amendment claims. Specifically, the Center may assist in motion practice, preparation for suppression hearings, appellate strategy, brief writing, and oral argument. The Center also provides group trainings for defense lawyers around the country and upon request.

 

Learn more about the Center's history and staff.

 


 

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Watch Now: Digital Defense in a Post-Dobbs World

The Center's staff, including Michael Price, Litigation Director; Sidney Thaxter, Senior Litigator; and Clare Garvie, Resource and Training Counsel, explain and discuss some of the important digital technology issues that defense counsel will very likely encounter in these cases. The faculty focus on reverse searches, facial recognition, and device searches. Slides and associated resources can be found on the webinar's website.

 

Read: Dawes Order Granting Motion to Supress Geofence Search Warrant

In People v. Dawes, No. 19002022 (Cal. Sup. Ct., Sept. 30, 2022), a San Francisco state court found that the use of a “geofence warrant” was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment and unlawful under the California Electronic Privacy Act (CalECPA). In a 59-page opinion, the court first ruled that individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their geolocation data under CalECPA, in one of the few published decisions interpreting the 2016 law. While the court found probable cause for the search, it also determined that the warrant was not sufficiently particular and still overly broad under the Fourth Amendment because it intruded on the privacy of homes and people who were not suspects, victims, or witnesses and afforded police unbridled discretion. The court also interpreted CalECPA’s statutory particularity requirements for the first time and found that the warrant violated these requirements because it did not avoid sweeping up people who were uninvolved in the crime. Finally, the court found that under CalECPA, such statutory deficiencies bar the application of the so-called good faith doctrine, requiring suppression of the evidence obtained from the geofence warrant.

The full decision is available here. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also filed an amicus brief, available here.

Michael Price, Litigation Director for the Fourth Amendment Center, is co-counsel with Sierra Villaran, Deputy Public Defender for the San Francisco Public Defenders Office.

 

Watch now: Videos from the Fourth Amendment Center’s May CLE, “Unlocking the Black Box: Challenging Surveillance and Technology in Criminal Cases,” are now available. 

This two-day conference, which the Center hosted alongside the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic, features flash talks and panels from leading defense attorneys, scholars and activists. View each event from “Unlocking the Black Box” here.

 


 

Reports

   

Find the rest of our reports and primers here.

 


 

CLE Training and Webinar Library

 

Using Police Technologies to Uncover Law Enforcement Misconduct in Criminal Cases

Since 2017, the Baltimore Public Defender’s Office has called over 2,000 convictions into question related to police misconduct. In one instance, a Baltimore Police Department body-worn camera appeared to show an officer planting drugs at the scene of an arrest. As law enforcement agencies are increasingly using surveillance tools and forensic technologies to identify and arrest suspects in criminal investigations, defense attorneys are faced with the challenge of both defending their clients and holding police accountable for misconduct and abuse. How can criminal defense attorneys turn police technologies on police departments in criminal proceedings? 

This webinar from August 11, 2020 featured Debbie Levi, Director of Special Litigation with the Baltimore City Public Defender, and Ivan Bates, Managing Partner of Bates & Garcia, P.C.

Find the rest of the Center's webinars here.

 

Combatting the Surveillance State in Criminal Proceedings

This two-day CLE conference discussed the government's use of technologically advanced investigative techniques in criminal cases, and the issues raised by those techniques under the Fourth Amendment and other federal law.  

This CLE was co-sponsored by NACDL and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology (BCLT), and held at International House, the University of California - Berkeley from November 29 to 30, 2018. 

All of the videos from the conference can be viewed here.

 


 

Amicus Briefs

 

NACDL provides amicus assistance on the federal and state level in those cases that present issues of importance to criminal defendants, criminal defense lawyers, and the criminal justice system as a whole. A selection of NACDL's amicus briefs that address the Fourth Amendment in the digital age are offered below. 

 

           State v. Jackson                             Jewel v. National Security Agency
       
        United States v. Henderson                  United States v. Ackerman        
          Dahda v. United States                           Byrd v. United States

 Read the rest of our amicus work here.

 


 

Litigation Support

 

Need help with a case?

 

The Center is available to provide consultations and litigation resources as well as direct assistance in support of a defendant’s Fourth Amendment claims. Specifically, the Center may assist in motion practice, preparation for suppression hearings, appellate strategy, brief writing, and oral argument. The Center also provides group trainings for defense lawyers around the country and upon request.

To request assistance or additional information, contact 4AC@nacdl.org.

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