Riverside, California—On Wednesday, February 13, at 10:00 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will ask a state court to unseal a wiretap order issued against individuals with no criminal records to learn why the phones were tapped and whether the warrant authorization process was legitimate.

The order was among hundreds of questionable wiretaps issued by a single county in 2015, which accounted for over half of all reported wiretaps from California, and over one-fifth of all state wiretaps issued nationwide. The individuals were never notified that their phones were being tapped, despite a law requiring such notice within 90 days of the wiretap’s conclusion, and were never charged with any wrongdoing.

EFF and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP represent a targeted individual whose phone was ordered tapped by Judge Helios J. Hernandez. The judge authorized a record number of wiretaps during the 2015 calendar year, not a single one of which resulted in either a trial or conviction. After a series of stories in USAToday uncovered Riverside County’s massive surveillance campaign and questioned the legality of the surveillance, watchdogs warned that the wiretaps likely violated federal law.

EFF Criminal Defense Attorney Stephanie Lacambra will argue that the wiretap order and justification should be subjected to public scrutiny and oversight because of the questionable circumstances surrounding its ssuance. Moreover, the First Amendment right of public access to court records should also apply to wiretap orders.

Hearing in the Matter of the Application of Michael A. Hestrin, District Attorney of the County of Riverside, State of California, for an Order Authorizing the Interception of Wire Communications in Wiretap No. 15-409

Wednesday, February 13, at 10:00 am

Superior Court of California, Riverside County
Riverside Hall of Justice
4100 Main St.
Department 64
Riverside, CA 92501

For EFF's motion to unseal in the case:

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