Legal Issues

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Judge of Dark Knight Shooting Case Pushes for Fox News Reporter Subpoena

Overseeing judge in the Dark Knight Rises shooting allows for a motion to subpoena Jana Winter over an article she wrote in regards to the case. Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

Overseeing judge in the Dark Knight Rises shooting allows for a motion to subpoena Jana Winter over an article she wrote in regards to the case. Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

In the case against the accused shooter James Holmes, of the Colorado Dark Knight Rises shooting in July 2012, the judge overseeing the case subpoenaed a New York Fox News reporter to appear in court over an article she wrote in regards to the case.

Holmes’ attorneys requested the reporter, Jana Winter, to appear in a February 4 hearing to question her about the sources of her story and ask her to share her notes with the court.

Fox News reporter, Winter, would not be legally required to attend the hearing unless a New York judge also wants her to appear in court. Additionally, Holmes’ attorneys said they would pay for her travel costs as a complimentary service.

What compelled Holmes’ attorneys to summon Winter in court was the fact that she wrote an article providing information on Holmes’ activity with his psychiatrist. According to the Denver Post, “Winter wrote a story in July about a notebook Holmes sent to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado. Winter, citing two unnamed law-enforcement sources, reported that the notebook contained violent drawings and details about a murderous plot.”

Photo Credit: Lawren Chadler

According to the Denver Post, Winter reported on a mysterious notebook from Holmes that may have contained “violent drawings and details about a murderous plot.”
Photo Credit: Lawren Chadler

In a motion requesting a judges approval convincing Winter’s appearance in court, Holmes’ attorneys wrote, “Identifying the law enforcement sources who leaked this information to the media is an issue of serious and material importance to the case.”

Prosecutors later determined that there was no official proof that law enforcement officials were actually responsible for the leak of information.

The Denver Post also said that Holmes was charged with “166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes for the July 20 attack that left 12 dead and 58 more wounded by gunfire. According to a source who spoke to The Denver Post on condition of anonymity, Holmes told his psychiatrist that he fantasized about killing “a lot of people.”

Jana Winter reported viable information gathered from an unknown source.
Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

Brandon Williams, a soon to be graduate of Full Sail University’s Show Production bachelor program stated, “I agree with Winter wanting to protect her source for their confidentiality rights.”

Williams went on to say, “But from the outside looking in, Winter could also be lying about having a source that was a law enforcement official. How do we know what is the truth?”

The Federal Government & Electronic Eavesdropping: Are you protected?

 

Integrated microcircuits in radio transmitters can be as thin as a playing card to be inserted into wallpaper and cardboard.
Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

Through the advancements in technology, the federal government has more access than ever to our personal conversations on a daily basis, by way of wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping.

 So what exactly is wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping? This may be a question you ask yourself. According to Dictionary.reference.com, Wiretapping is “an act or instance of tapping telephone or telegraph wires for evidence or other information.” Electronic eavesdropping is “the use of an electronic transmitting or recording device to monitor conversations without the consent of the parties,” according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Let there be no mistake that about the history of this type of surveillance tactic, as this is not a new practice. For decades, government officials have employed this tactic to gain insight and information, normally involving criminal activity. In the new age, technological advancements have made monitoring much easier to do.

Imagine a transmitter as thin as a playing card picking up every word of your conversation. According to SSRI.org, modern day developments in surveillance software have led to many innovative techniques for electronic eavesdropping. “Radio transmitters with integrated microcircuits have been made small enough to permit their insertion into bits of cardboard or behind wallpaper.”

I came across a quote from the EFF’s (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Surveillance Self-Defense project. It states: “wiretapping is legally difficult for the government: it must obtain a hard-to-get intercept order or “super-warrant” from a court, subject to strict oversight and variety of strong privacy protections. However, wiretapping is typically very technically easy for the government.”

“Anyone within range of your wireless signal can intercept your wireless Internet communications.”
Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

Typically, federal law enforcement officials must obtain “probable cause” of illegal activity and a court order before being able to tap telephone lines. Court orders allowing wiretapping must limit the surveillance to a specific time period, normally 30—40 days. Additionally, surveillance should be limited to communications involving the unlawful activity.

So this means anyone within range of your wireless signal can intercept your wireless Internet communications. The EFF also touches on everyday cell phone communications. “Similarly, practically anyone within range of your cell phone’s radio signal, including the government, can — with a few hundred bucks to buy the right equipment — eavesdrop on your cell phone conversations.”

Aleshia Highland, 2011 Communications Bachelor of Arts alumni of Virginia State University, commented on the virtual lack of privacy in today’s world. “If the government is doing it then everyone else is doing it too. There’s really nothing we can do about it.”

When asked how she felt about federal officials intercepting without legal consent, Highland stated, “its an invasion of privacy, its what everyone is supposed to be entitled to. If they can’t get the information they need, then they are not doing they’re job. That’s the whole purpose.”