Monthly Archives: December 2016

Here’s my Interview about Stringrays on NBC-2

122316bNBC-2 posted the story online that included my interview about the use of cell-phone tower imitators, that go by the brand name of Stingrays, and how they are being used to collect people’s data. There are still a lot of questions about the use of these devices, in part because the government is being so secretive about it. In many cases, their use can be legal, but they should definitely implement oversight, and get oversight from the courts by seeking warrants when they are being used.

For more in the issue, USA Today has been following the issue, and has a section devoted to it, here: http://www.usatoday.com/topic/f764896f-76b5-4789-a58e-e333b9b5bcfc/cellphone-surveillance/

And here is the NBC-2 story from last night: http://www.nbc-2.com/story/34124137/cell-phone-interceptors-used-by-govt-agency-to-gather-information

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Florida Woman gets to Keep her Pet Gator

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“Rambo” the Alligator

Lakeland resident Mary Thorn has been granted permission to keep her pet alligator, Rambo. She’s had him for more than a decade, and he lives in her home. He’s famous in Lakeland, as he’s made appearances at local events: Thorn dresses him up like Santa and in other outfits.

Thorn has had a permit for Rambo, but a recent law states that gators over 6 feet must have at least 2.5 acres of land. Thorn was given permission to keep him, with the caveat that she can no longer take him out to public events. I haven’t been able to find the specifics of the ruling, but presumably Thorn was able to grandfather him in, since she had him for so long before the rule was passed.

Attorney Cordell will talk Privacy on NBC-2 Tonight

me nbc2b

Attorney Spencer Cordell

This week the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a bipartisan report calling for standards on how cell-phone tower simulators, known as Stingrays, are used by government agencies. We don’t know how extensively they are being used, or even how much data they are able to collect: not just from criminals, but from average citizens whose phones get caught up. We do know there have been abuses in the past.

NBC-2 is doing a story tonight, and I may show up with some comments. The Stingray, and the secrecy around the agencies’ use of the technology is troubling. There are legal means to use technology, the most straightforward is just to get a warrant. We encourage standards and oversight, especially in Florida, which leads the country in Stingray use.

Tune in to NBC-2 tonight at 6 p.m.

Friday Fun from Florida: Gator Stolen

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The Stolen Gator

A Sarasota resident was surprised when an Alligator wandered into his yard. He didn’t need to be scared, because the gator’s mouth was already taped up. It appears the gator had recently been trapped, but that the gator had then been stolen. I guess the thief ended up with a little more than he bargained for!

via NBC-2

There Could be Changes Coming to the Stand Your Ground Law

Florida Supreme Court

FL Supreme Court

When the Florida legislature passed the “Stand Your Ground” law, one of the provisions is for immunity from prosecution from those who used force in self-defense, under the law. The lawmakers failed to explain exactly how this immunity would be exercised. The courts then worked to apply the law, and crafted a system where the accused can file a motion to dismiss based on that promise of immunity, and would have a chance to show the court at hearing they were entitled to immunity.

At issue is that the courts have found the burden is on the accused to prove their entitlement to immunity, instead of the state. The state normally bears the burden of proof, and some proponents of the law do not like that the burden has shifted onto the protected people the law was designed to protect. Unfortunately for them, the Florida Supreme Court upheld that procedure, since there was no specificity in the law. Lawmakers are now looking at the possibility of amending the law to put the burden to demonstrate that individuals are not immune in self-defense cases back on the state.

See Also: Florida Supreme Court Opinion upholding the procedure, Bretherick v. State

and the latest story via NBC-2

Arizona lawyer disbarred upon consent for disparaging book about his client Jodi Arias which violated client confidentiality

I’ve said it before, and will say it again… don’t disparage your clients. “Bottom line:  This lawyer chose to write a book in a highly publicized and lurid case which disparaged his client and revealed attorney/client confidential information, including conversations with her and her family and disparaging comments.  Aria’s conviction is currently on appeal and it has been alleged that information in the book may jeopardize that appeal.”

Source: Arizona lawyer disbarred upon consent for disparaging book about his client Jodi Arias which violated client confidentiality

Guy Commits Coolest $1.6 Million Armored Car Robbery Ever

 

groundhog_day_movie_posterEver see the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day? There’s a scene where Murray’s character, Phil, times the behavior of armored guards to walk up and steal a bag of money when they aren’t looking. Some guy in New York actually pulled that off!

Here’s the scene from Goundhog Day, if you haven’t seen it before. It makes more sense to know that Bill Murray is reliving the same day over and over again, so he knows what’s going to happen…

So, a guy in New York just pulled off that move. He walked up to an unguarded armored truck, snatched a bucket of money, and walked off. The whole thing was caught on camera, and NYPD Crimestoppers are looking for tips if anyone recognized the guy. Here’s the footage of the sneaky thief:

Here’s the amazing thing… this guy didn’t just get a bucket of change. The bucket he swiped was full of gold! The five-gallon pail had 82 pounds of flaked gold, worth $1.6 million dollars. It was so heavy, it took him an hour to walk a few blocks where he got in a van to make his escape. Police pieced all this together by reviewing the surveillance footage in the video, above. They still have not identified him, and are looking for tips.

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Screen Capture of the Groundhog-style Thief

I called this a robbery in the title, but it’s really more of a simple grand theft. Robbery typically indicates taking property from a person, but there’s nobody here. It’s like shoplifting, except from an armored car. It’s exactly like the Groundhog Day, theft, so I’m beside myself because it’s one of my favorite movies. But this guy didn’t plan it out… he probably just saw an opportunity, and got really lucky. Winner, winner, chicken dinner and bucket of gold. I think they have an idea who it is, because investigators think the suspect is laying low in Florida. Because of course he is. Just so EPIC.