Washington, D.C. (April 29, 2016) — The Supreme Court yesterday referred controversial proposed changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to Congress, and without further Congressional action those changes will come into effect December 1st of this year. NACDL submitted comments in opposition to these far reaching changes, arguing that the significant impact on constitutional rights requires a much more transparent and robust process than federal rule-making.
The proposal would give the government broad authority to remotely hack into the computers of hundreds or even thousands of innocent people with just one warrant. Such sweeping changes cannot be considered merely procedural and require significant Congressional oversight to ensure that fundamental constitutional rights are protected.
"By shepherding these changes through the rules process, the Department of Justice seems to be making an end run around the legislative process to achieve invasive new powers that would render Fourth Amendment protections meaningless in the digital age," said NACDL President E.G. "Gerry" Morris.
Congress should take action to prevent these rule changes from being adopted and ensure that any such changes to the government's ability to access and search digital devices are made only after a thorough and public legislative process.
For a more detailed presentation of NACDL's position concerning the proposed changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, please see NACDL's letter to the Advisory Committee, prepared on NACDL's behalf by Peter Goldberger and William J. Genego, co-chairs of NACDL's Committee on Rules of Procedure, and Samuel A. Guiberson, vice chair of NACDL's Fourth Amendment Advocacy Committee. A link to that letter is available here.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.