If Boucher is a valid precedent then I am happy with that for state offences.
Boucher was at exactly the same judicial level as this case. Both were rulings in federal level district courts, just different districts.
All cases are particular, but precedents should be general, or at least apply to other cases with similar circumstances.
Boucher sets a pretty strong precedent. It sets relatively narrow circumstances under which a defendant can be made to decrypt their data. In reading the logic behind it, I’m not sure I entirely agree — I’d tend to restrict it even a bit more — but I’m fairly satisfied.
Frankly, this new case doesn’t appear to have changed anything with respect to the interpretation of the fifth amendment with regard to encryption keys.
We should try harder not to let offenders escape the consequences of their crimes.
There are two fundamental obstacles to that, both of which have to be clearly addressed.
First, there are the false positives — cases where the defendant is actually innocent, but the system still finds them guilty. There’s plenty to motivate the state to get guilty verdicts, regardless of the truth of the matter — district attorneys are often elected officials and want to be able to show their “tough on crime” credentials. Performance is measured in terms of “successful” (that is, “guilty”) verdicts.
Second, is the risk of abuse of government power. Giving more power to the government to interfere in the lives of private citizens is always hazardous. We stand on a slippery slope, at the bottom of which is a police state. Constraints on government powers is one of the ways we hold on to our freedoms.
This is why we, as a society, put such strong constraints on how the government prosecutes crime — the presumption of innocence, due process, rules of evidence, entrapment laws, and, yes — the fifth amendment. It’s important that we successfully prosecute criminals, but it’s at least as important that we don’t prosecute the innocent in the process (maybe more so).
I have never claimed to be a liberal in the sense that I am obsessed with maintaining my constitutional freedoms, even when the impact on society can be quite severe (compare with gun control).
You lost that argument fair and square, yet you keep hinting that yours was (is) a reasonable position. The “impact on society” of our current “lack” of adequate gun controls is minimal, as the evidence I gave clearly showed. You certainly never offered any counter argument.
I actually think that we’re in a similar situation, here. You’re arguing that we need to be tougher on crime, but I think the real facts are that we’re plenty tough enough on crime. It’s just confirmation bias — between the media attention given to a few high profile cases and the prevalence of crime drama on TV, we’re encouraged to think that the justice system is broken, that criminals routinely get off on technicalities.
The reality is that relatively few violent crimes go unsolved, and most of them are successfully prosecuted. Overall crime rates are way down, too. This urge you feel that we need to “fix” something is just misplaced. It ain’t broke.
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