Monthly Archives: December 2010

Prosecutor: Charges over wife’s e-mail appropriate

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper defended her decision Wednesday to file charges against a man accused of hacking into his estranged wife’s e-mail after suspecting she was having an affair, saying the case is about invasion of privacy.

Cooper said that charging Leon Walker with felony computer misuse was appropriate because he broke state law. Walker, an information technology worker, has said he accessed the account only because he suspected infidelity, and critics say Cooper has better things to do than get involved in marital strife.

“I could care less who is messing with whom. This case is about hacking,” Cooper said. “Somebody has violated a statute. My job is to enforce the statute. The hacking laws are there for a reason. You have to have … privacy.”

Judges have twice denied requests to dismiss the charges, she added.

Walker, 33, and his attorney didn’t return phone messages Wednesday. Walker is fighting the charge, which carries up to five years in prison. His trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 11.

Walker’s now ex-wife, Clara Walker, realized her e-mail had been hacked when e-mails showed up in child custody pleadings involving her first husband. She filed a complaint with police in March, Cooper said.

The Walkers, who lived in Rochester Hills, were going through a contentious divorce. Leon Walker, her third husband, has said he suspected his wife was having an affair with her second husband.

Walker has said he bought the laptop, but Clara Walker claimed that she changed her password six times and he didn’t have permission to use it. She told investigators that he downloaded e-mails concerning her first husband about a custody battle.

“My e-mail password was a secret and not kept around the house for anybody to find,” Clara Walker wrote Wednesday in an e-mail. “When I learned that he was sneaking around and invading my privacy, I felt violated.”

Support for Leon Walker has been popping up in blogs and among some legal professionals, mostly questioning why Cooper is pursuing the case. A paralegal in Tennessee said he plans to raise money to help Walker’s legal defense.

Florida lawyer David Allen worked on a similar divorce proceeding that involved his client’s wife installing spyware on her husband’s computer. His client declined to press charges, though a judge ruled that communications captured by the spyware were inadmissible.

“A lot of these prosecutors, they just want publicity (but) you are supposed to enforce the law,” Allen said.

via Freep

Is reading wife’s e-mail a crime? Rochester Hills man faces trial

A Rochester Hills man faces up to 5 years in prison — for reading his wife’s e-mail.

Oakland County prosecutors, relying on a Michigan statute typically used to prosecute crimes such as identity theft or stealing trade secrets, have charged Leon Walker, 33, with a felony after he logged onto a laptop in the home he shared with his wife, Clara Walker.

Using her password, he accessed her Gmail account and learned she was having an affair. He now is facing a Feb. 7 trial. She filed for divorce, which was finalized earlier this month.

Legal experts say it’s the first time the statute has been used in a domestic case, and it might be hard to prove

“It’s going to be interesting because there are no clear legal answers here,” said Frederick Lane, a Vermont attorney and nationally recognized expert who has published five books on electronic privacy. The fact that the two still were living together, and that Leon Walker had routine access to the computer, may help him, Lane said.

“I would guess there is enough gray area to suggest that she could not have an absolute expectation of privacy,” he said.

About 45% of divorce cases involve some snooping — and gathering — of e-mail, Facebook and other online material, Lane said. But he added that those are generally used by the warring parties for civil reasons — not for criminal prosecution.

“It is an indication of how deeply electronic communication is woven into our lives,” Lane said.

Leon Walker was Clara Walker’s third husband. Her e-mail showed she was having an affair with her second husband, a man who once had been arrested for beating her in front of her small son. Leon Walker, worried that the child might be exposed to domestic violence again, handed the e-mails over to the child’s father, Clara Walker’s first husband. He promptly filed an emergency motion to obtain custody.

Leon Walker, a computer technician with Oakland County, was arrested in February 2009, after Clara Walker learned he had provided the e-mails to her first husband.

“I was doing what I had to do,” Leon Walker told the Free Press in a recent interview. He has been out on bond since shortly after his arrest. “We’re talking about putting a child in danger.”

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper defended her decision to charge Leon Walker.

“The guy is a hacker,” Cooper said in a voice mail response to the Free Press last week. “It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way.”

Walker’s defense attorney, Leon Weiss, said Cooper is “dead wrong” on the law.

“I’ve been a defense attorney for 34 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “This is a hacking statute, the kind of statute they use if you try to break into a government system or private business for some nefarious purpose. It’s to protect against identity fraud, to keep somebody from taking somebody’s intellectual property or trade secrets.

“I have to ask: ‘Don’t the prosecutors have more important things to do with their time?’ ”

Clara Walker, through her attorney, Michael McCulloch, declined an interview with the Free Press.

In the preliminary exam, Clara Walker testified that although Leon Walker had purchased the laptop for her, it was hers alone and she kept the password a secret.

Leon Walker told the Free Press he routinely used the computer and that she kept all of her passwords in a small book next to the computer.

“It was a family computer,” he said. “I did work on it all the time.”

A jury ultimately will decide.

Several area defense attorneys were astonished by the filing of the criminal charges.

“What’s the difference between that and parents who get on their kids’ Facebook accounts?” attorney Deborah McKelvy said. “You’re going to have to start prosecuting a whole bunch of parents.”

via Freep

Feds seeking records amid Lansing-area marijuana investigation

DETROIT – Federal agents want Michigan to turn over medical marijuana records as part of an investigation in the Lansing area, a sign that voter approval won’t stop federal authorities from enforcing their drug laws.

Michigan voters agreed in 2008 to legalize the use of marijuana in treating some health problems.

But “the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana remains illegal under federal law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruha said in a court filing last week.

The U.S. attorney’s office has asked a judge to order the Department of Community Health to comply with a subpoena for records of seven people with medical marijuana or marijuana caregiver cards. The state has been resisting turning over the information because of a privacy provision in Michigan law, Bruha said.

No names or identifying information about the seven are included in court documents, nor are details about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s investigation.

DEA spokesman Rich Isaacson in Detroit wouldn’t comment about the case Monday but said agents generally are “not targeting people that are unambiguously following the state medical marijuana law.”

“The DEA targets large scale drug trafficking organizations and does not expend its resources on individuals possessing ‘user amount’ quantities of illegal drugs,” he said.

The federal government apparently hasn’t been in a rush to get the information: The subpoena was given to the Department of Community Health in June.

More than 45,000 people in Michigan are registered to use marijuana to ease the symptoms of cancer and other health problems.

They can have up to 2 1/2 ounces of ready-to-use pot and up to 12 plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. They could also choose to have a registered caregiver grow the drug for them.

Law enforcement officials have panned the law as poorly written, and an appeals court judge has called it a “maze.” The American Civil Liberties Union is suing cities over anti-marijuana policies.

via Lansing State Journal

Feds want Mich. records in medical-marijuana probe – chicagotribune.com

Sometimes, I hate to be right . . . I didn’t believe the Obama Administration’s promise via the Ogden Memorandum to back off the enforcement of marijuana cases in states where medical marijuana was permitted.   Wishful thinking . . . the number of marijuana cases, investigations and prosecutions continues to increase.  Federal prosecutors and authorities continue to investigate and prosecute in their heavy-handed, ham-handed ways.  The Ogden Memorandum is, in my opinion, a farce.   Obama’s promise to “lay off” is/was no more reliable than his promise to “discontinue the Bush tax cuts.”   I have read with disgust and disdain the goings on in Colorado and California.  Federal authorities and prosecutors pledging to prosecute officials in Oakland, California . . .

Today, Federal prosecutors in Michigan demonstrate that they don’t want to feel left out . . . they want the Michigan Department of Community Health to release the records of seven (7) patients.   You should write Barbara McQuade.  You should write Barack Obama.  You should write Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, your Congressman, etc.

Be afraid people, be very afraid.  Big Brother is watching, lurking and snooping.  They have no right to these records.  There are real problems in this country:  deficit, debt, spending, budget, North Korea, terrorism, Oil shortages, gas prices, ad infinitum . . . ad nauseam.  Real issues.  Real problems.  These problems do not lurk in Lansing or in the Department of Community Health records and files.

Neil Rockind of Neil Rockind, P.C. was asked to provide expert commentary on this subject and topic today.   Neil Rockind P.C. is leading the way in Medical Marijuana defense in Michigan.  Defending dispensaries, clinics, patients and communities from the heavy handed tactics of prosecutors, be it local, state or federal.   If you have any questions or comments, feel free to call us at 248.208.3800 or visit us at http://www.MichiganMedicalMarijuanaLawyers.com.

 

 

Feds want Mich. records in medical-marijuana probe – chicagotribune.com.

This sums it up at Neil Rockind, P.C.  We fight for the little guy.  Against the odds.  No matter the size of the opponent.  We are not afraid to throw.

I wish all our friends, clients, supporters and their families, a Merry Christmas.   Please stay safe and warm.

Very truly yours,

Neil Rockind
Colin Daniels
Jennifer Mellas

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