Defense in murder case can obtain private social media posts

ABC News | 7/19/2019 | Staff
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The California Supreme Court has ruled that the defense in a gang-related murder trial can obtain private postings from social media companies.

The court's decision Wednesday upheld a ruling by the judge overseeing the San Francisco trial and noted that the judge's findings strongly justify access in this case, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

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It's the first time such an order has been enforced in a California court, the Times said.

Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that the defense in the gang case could have social media postings that were public at the time of the killings, but that ruling did not deal with private postings.

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Under the latest ruling, the judge will review any postings obtained from the companies and decide which ones will be given to the defense.

The decision is not binding on other courts, but it is expected to be cited by defense attorneys seeking private posts in other cases.

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For years, social media companies have opposed efforts by criminal defense attorneys to access accounts, arguing that federal privacy law — the Stored Communications Act — bars cooperation except in limited circumstances.

The criminal case is the prosecution of a killing and attempted killing involving a June 2013 drive-by shooting in San Francisco.

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