Van Buren v. United States

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner (on Petition for a Writ of Certiorari). 

Brief filed: 01/17/2020


Van Buren v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 19-783

Prior Decision

Decision below 940 F.3d 1192 (11th Cir. Oct. 10, 2019)


In this case, the Eleventh Circuit reaffirmed that a person violates the CFAA by using a computer to access information for an improper purpose, even if that person is otherwise authorized to access that information. This holding warrants review because it reinforces a conflict of authority regarding the meaning of “authorized access” under the CFAA and because the Eleventh Circuit was wrong on the merits. Review also is warranted because the question presented is important. Computers are ubiquitous in daily life. It is important that the Court clarify that ordinary deviances from terms-of-use requirements— whether imposed by internet websites or private company use guidelines, to name but a few—are not criminal. Review also is necessary because the Eleventh Circuit’s decision deviates from settled practices for construing federal criminal statutes. Because the Eleventh Circuit’s decision and those courts on its side of the open and acknowledged split of authority break from this approach at every level, this Court should grant review.


Clifford W. Berlow and Grace C. Signorelli-Cassady, Jenner & Block LLP, Chicago, IL; Jeffrey T. Green, NACDL, Washington, DC.

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