The criminal sexual offense case against Sarah Jones was in the news again. A Kentucky judge declined to issue a gag order in the Sarah Jones case, according to news reports. A trial is set to begin Oct. 10. Mike Allen was interviewed by Fox 19 about the latest developments in the case. The former Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleader accused of having sex with a student when she taught at Dixie Heights High School. Prosecutors allege that Jones used a position of authority to coerce a student into engaging in a sexual relationship. Part of the prosecution case is a number of allegedly inappropriate text messages sent by and to Jones. Prosecutors have also attempted to obtain information from Facebook. In one message discussed in court, Jones allegedly instructed a student "to deny everything." According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, "another prosecutor assisting in the case described [the] text messages as steamy." Access to text messages by law enforcement is a developing area of the law. According to a report in the New York Times, cellphone carriers responded to 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information. Some of this information is obtained with a warrant, some is not. Attorneys are also starting to question whether the First Amendment protects Facebook. A federal judge ruled earlier this year that "liking" something on Facebook isn't speech protected by the First Amendment. H/T Wall Street Journal Law Blog. In that case, employees of a Virginia sheriff in a reelection campaign were fired for "liking" the opponent's webpage on Facebook and otherwise indicating their support for the opponent. The ACLU and others argued to the court of appeals that that by "Liking" the Facebook page of a political candidate, a person is expressing a political opinion. Law enforcement will increasingly seek access to Facebook and text messages because authorities can find a comprehensive database about people, including their family, friends, relationships, locations and communications. The First Amendment is implicated, some have suggested, because status update histories, postings, friend and group listingsand private messages, can provide a "map of association" of all of the contacts, associates, colleagues, and friends of users. Persons who may be facing a criminal investigation, or who have reason to fear the the government is attempting to access their text messages, cell phone data, or Facebook accounts, are urged to take two steps. First: these persons should make efforts to keep messages and Likes private or restricted to other trusted members of groups. Second, persons should consider obtaining counsel who are experienced in criminal investigations and technology issues. Previous coverage of the Jones case on this blog can be found here. If convicted, Jones faces up to 10 year in prison. Jones may also be required to register as a sexual offender under Kentucky law.
Judges and lawyers in Ohio drunk driving cases continue to raise questions about the use of the Intoxilyzer 8000. According to WKYC in Cleveland, in one Municipal Court case, a judge ruled that "the results of the Intoxilyzer 8000 will not be admissible" and that the machine "does not appear to be shown to be accurate and reliable in the courts of Ohio." The report states that "about a dozen judges in Ohio have made similar rulings in the past few years, citing that the breathalyzer machine makes inaccurate readings at times and the software used to run the machine often fails." The Ohio Department of Health bought more Intoxilyzer 8000 machines using a federal grant. They have been slowly made available to local law enforcement. Like a recent decision in Cincinnati, a number of cities in Lake County have suspended use of the Intoxilyzer 8000. In a related development, in Butler County, a judge has been ordered to recuse himself from deciding any cases involving the machines. Area I Court Judge Robert Lyons was ordered by Common Pleas Judge Michael Sage to not participate as a judge in any more cases involving the Intoxilyzer 8000 because "seminars sponsored by his firm and his own representation of clients similarly situated, gives the appearance of impropriety." Lyons had been asked to recuse himself from cases earlier this year by Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser. Gnomser claimed that the part-time judge was going to rule on a suppression motion similar to a motion he had used for a client in his private practice. Few Ohio courts of appeals have had the opportunity to rule on the use of the Intoxilyzer 8000 in drunk driving, or OVI, cases. A few weeks ago the Twelfth District Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over a number of Southwest Ohio counties, including Warren, Butler, and Clermont counties, rejected a challenge to the use of the Intoxilyzer 8000 based on language in the Ohio administrative code. Because the law on this issue is rapidly evolving, individuals facing drunk driving/DUI/OVI charges should contact a defense attorney who has the experience necessary to develop and present the most effective strategy following arrest and, if necessary, at trial.
Michael Allen discussed the arrest of Chad Johnson for domestic violence on 700 WLW (click here for podcast) Allen noted that Johnson could be facing felony charges as a result of the incident because of his prior conviction for domestic violence in 2000. More details about the case have emerged with the release of the 911 tape. According to reports, a neighbor initially called 911 and reported "a little domestic dispute." The neighbor asked that police and paramedics be sent to the scene. The neighbor also asked that the media not be told of the incident. During the call, Johnson's wife, Evelyn Lozada can be heard to say that Johnson headbutted her. Johnson, who used to be known as Chad Ochocinco when he played for the Cincinnati Bengals, admitted to a past incident of domestic violence in his 2006 book. As we previously noted, in Ohio, a second or subsequent charge for domestic violence could be a felony. Those convicted of domestic violence face not only the possibility of a felony record and prison time for a second offense, but are also prohibited by federal law from carrying a firearm. Johnson's case illustrates the need to those facing domestic violence charges to obtain experienced defense counsel who are able to fully investigate every aspect of a case and work to expose any false allegations.