Attorney Support Services for San Diego County and the Temecula Valley.

Eviction Services

Iron Law Eviction Services for San Diego County and Riverside County.

Facebook, Inc. v. Super. Ct.

Filed 5/24/18 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA FACEBOOK, INC., et al., ) ) Petitioners, ) ) v. ) S230051 ) THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE CITY ) AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO ) Ct.App. 1/5 A144315 ) Respondent; ) ) San Francisco City and County DERRICK D. HUNTER et al., ) Super. Ct. Nos. 13035657, ) 13035658 Real Parties in Interest. ) ) INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW Real parties in interest Derrick Hunter and Lee Sullivan (defendants) were indicted by a grand jury and await trial on murder, weapons, and gang-related charges arising out of a drive-by shooting in San Francisco. Each defendant served a subpoena duces tecum on one or more petitioners, social media service providers Facebook, Inc. (Facebook), Instagram, LLC (Instagram), and Twitter, Inc. (Twitter) (collectively, social media providers, or simply providers). The subpoenas broadly seek public and private communications, including any deleted posts or messages, from the social media accounts of the homicide victim and a prosecution witness. As explained below, the federal Stored Communications Act (18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., hereafter SCA or Act)1 regulates the conduct of covered service providers, declaring that as a general matter they may not disclose stored electronic communications except under specified circumstances (including with the consent of the social media user who posted the communication) or as compelled by law enforcement entities employing procedures such as search warrants or prosecutorial subpoenas. Providers moved to quash defendants’ subpoenas, asserting the Act bars providers from disclosing the communications sought by defendants. They focused on section 2702(a) of the Act, which states that specified providers “shall not knowingly divulge to any person or entity the contents of” any “communication” that is stored or maintained by that provider. They asserted that section 2702 prohibits disclosure by social media providers of any communication, whether it was configured to be public (that is, with regard to the communications before us, one as to which the social media user placed no restriction regarding who might access it) or private or restricted (that is, configured to be accessible to only authorized recipients). Moreover, they maintained, none of various exceptions to the prohibition on disclosure listed in section 2702(b) applies here. And in any event, providers argued, they would face substantial technical difficulties and burdens if forced to attempt to retrieve deleted communications and should not be required to do so. Defendants implicitly accepted providers’ reading of the Act and their conclusion that it bars providers from complying with the subpoenas. Nevertheless, defendants asserted that they need all of the requested communications (including any that may have been deleted) in order to properly prepare for trial and defend against the pending murder charges. They argued that the SCA violates their constitutional rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution to the extent it precludes compliance with the pretrial subpoenas in this case. 1 Future undesignated statutory references are to title 18 of the United States Code. 2 The trial court, implicitly accepting the parties’ …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court