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Criminal Justice News Archives

Comments on Petitioner’s Opening Supreme Court Brief in Van Buren v. United States

We have previously covered the SCOTUS’s interesting decision to grant certiorari in Van Buren v. United States – a criminal case where the petitioner has appealed his conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

The case is potentially significant because the lower court’s interpretation of the CFAA, defended by the government on appeal, would criminalize large swaths of seemingly innocuous computer use. For example, a SCOTUS decision for the government could mean that your yearly March Madness office pool is now a criminal conspiracy.

On July 1, the petitioner submitted his opening brief which lays out his arguments … Read More »



Could I Be Prosecuted for Using Facebook at Work? Supreme Court to Decide.

In April 2020, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Van Buren v. United States. This case raises questions about what constitutes criminal “computer misuse” under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a). The petitioner, Mr. Van Buren, was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a) after accepting a loan in exchange for personal records obtained through a police database. As a police officer, Mr. Van Buren had permission to access the database for work related purposes. In his petition for certiorari, he argues that because he had permission to use the database, his misuse did not rise to a criminal level. The question for … Read More »



Thoughts on the Fourth Circuit’s Ruling in the McDonnell Case

For a while things were going well for former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s appeal of his convictions for corruption related offenses. The Court allowed him to remain out of custody while the appeal was pending and the panel who heard his case – Judges Motz, King, and Thacker – was pretty favorable by Fourth Circuit standards.

But the Court ruled against him on every issue. In a published decision issued last Friday.

The media has (appropriately) given most of its attention to the Fourth Circuit’s decision to uphold the relatively broad definition of “official act” given to the jury by … Read More »