In United States v. Langhorne, military investigators admitted to monitoring the defendant’s phone calls to learn his Facebook account name and password. After obtaining the private information, the investigators logged into account to get transcripts of conversations, including some that reportedly outlined a plot to hire a professional hitman. The groundwork of the investigation and the prosecution’s case against Langhorne rests almost entirely upon these transcripts.
In an attempt to defeat the prosecution early, the defendant filed an appeal, citing a Fourth Amendment violation of his privacy. The case moved up to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) for review and finality.
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY WHEN YOU ARE BEING WATCHED
The Air Force CCA did not favor with the appellant. It maintained that military investigators did not cause any unacceptable violation of privacy on the grounds that Langhorne knew his conversation was being monitored. Furthermore, review of his phone conversation with his Technical Sergeant revealed that he was put under no undue pressure to surrender his private Facebook username and password. Indeed, it was argued that he willingly and voluntarily gave that information.
The CCA has established that the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures does not exist if no right to privacy exists in the first place. By acknowledging that he was being recorded and volunteering the information in question, it is held that Langhorne had no reason to expect privacy on the matter. By this effect, the investigators could use the information as desired, up to actually logging into his accounts and looking through his conversations.
The lower court military judge overruled the defense’s objection and allowed the condemning Facebook messages to be seen as evidence for the trial, prompting the appeal. The Air Force CCA has approved the lower court judge’s decision and hence kept the evidence relevant to the trial. It remains to be seen if this decision will be appealed to CAAF (United States Court of Appeals for Armed Forces).
(More information regarding this ongoing military case can be found on CAAFLog by clicking here and visiting a full article.)
Defending the rights and reputation of military service members accused of serious military crimes comes as second nature to Military Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph L. Jordan. He and his legal team have protected officers and members from all branches of the Armed Forces and in military bases around the globe. Inquiring parties can contact his law firm online or call (866) 361-4723 to request an initial consultation regarding the details of their military defense case.