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The Champion

November 2011 , Page 34 

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Challenging Wiretap Applications as Unconstitutionally Overbroad and Lacking Particularity: The Ill-Defined, Amorphous ‘Organization’?

By David B. Savitz


During 2010, federal and state courts authorized 3,194 applications for the interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications: 1,207 in the federal system and 1,987 among the states.1 Only one application was denied.2 The District of Arizona (91), Northern District of Illinois (73), Southern District of Georgia (65), and Southern District of Texas (65) had the highest number of federal applications.3 California (657), New York (480), and New Jersey (215) accounted for 68 percent of the state applications.4 

Drug crimes were the primary focus of 84 percent of the 2010 electronic investigations; homicide was a distant second at five percent, while racketeering was specified in less than four percent.5 The foregoing percentages describe the most serious offense listed on the applications while multiple crimes may in fact have been part of law enforcement’s investigation.6 Moreover, a particular crime does not have to be one of the enumerated offenses under T

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