Florida Fourth District Appellate Court again reverses murder conviction based on CSLI. Court rejects good faith exception.

This case was previously covered on this blog. That opinion was noteworthy because the Appellate Court reversed a murder conviction. That opinion was vacated by the Court with this new opinion substituted in.

Here’s a link to the blog coverage of the prior opinion:

The State’s theory of this murder and conspiracy case was that the defendant and a co-defendant were hired by someone to protect him from the victim who was murdered in a planned shooting.

The State presented evidence that the defendant owned many different types of cell phones, including Nextel phones that could be used like walkie-talkies. Federal agents testified regarding telephone calls made from these cell phones. On appeal, the defendant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress the historical CSLI data from two of his cell phones, which showed their location on the night of the murder.

The appellate court rejected the State’s argument that the good faith exception permits the admittance of the CSLI data. At the time fo the search, no binding decisional law existed determining that CSLI data was not within Fourth Amendment protection and thus exempt from the warrant requirement. CSLI data is never mentioned in reported decisions in that time period. The appellate court criticized the use of a Florida appellate decision that stated a person has no expectation of privacy in historical CSLI because that decision was issued several years after the search in this case. The detective cited no statute in the request for issuance of the subpoena and did not obtain a warrant or a court order. Therefore, the State cannot meet the good faith exception.

The case is Ferrari v. State, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 16689,
2018 WL 6132264, 43 Fla. L. Weekly D 2593, (4th Dist. FL App. Ct.) November 21, 2018.

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