2/19/2009

Evidence, Privacy and the High Court

In January, the United States Supreme Court issued an important decision in a case concerning the accuracy of criminal justice information systems.

In this case, Herring v. United States, the high court knocked down a lower-court ruling that evidence obtained during illegal searches and arrests should be thrown out because it violates the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizures.

The majority ruled that, as long as the arrest wasn’t reckless or deliberate, related evidence could be used. Yet in a dissenting opinion, four of the Justices cited an amicus brief written by Marc Rotenberg arguing that legal rules should require police to maintain accurate records.

Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., will discuss “Scientific Evidence and Supreme Court Litigation: The Role of Research in Emerging Privacy Cases” on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 4:30 p.m., in Franklin & Marshall’s Bonchek Lecture Hall in the Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy Building.

In this talk, Rotenberg will review the Herring case and discuss the need for empirical evidence to help the court understand the new challenges to privacy and civil liberties.

For nearly 20 years, Rotenberg has filed amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court to bring emerging civil liberties issues to the attention of the Justices and to set out proposals for how the court should respond.

Rotenberg teaches information privacy law at Georgetown University Law Center and has testified before Congress on numerous issues, including access to information, encryption policy, consumer protection, computer security and communications privacy.

He testified before the 9/11 Commission and has served on several national and international advisory panels, including the expert panels on Cryptography Policy and Computer Security for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Legal Experts on Cyberspace Law for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. He chairs the American Bar Association’s Committee on Privacy and Information Protection.

The talk, sponsored by the Center for Liberal Arts and Society and the Bonchek Institute for Science and Reason in a Liberal Democracy, is free and open to the public.

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