Tim Hrenchir of the Topeka Capital- Journal recently reported on the ongoing dispute between counsel for former high school teacher Jeffrey Pierce and prosecutors in the case. Pierce has been accused of solicitation of minors, including boys from the school where he taught as well blackmailing them to send him sexually explicit pictures and videos.
Pierce’s attorneys have filed a motion to suppress evidence from his cellphone that was obtained by the FBI after they allegedly forced him to turn over the password to his phone, a potential violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.
The government has claimed that this evidence shouldn’t be suppressed as they had other ways of breaking into the phone. In fact they state they already had the passcode of the phone as Pierce’s wife had turned it over in a separate previous interview. They also stated, due to the relatively simple four digit passcode in use, they would have been able to open the phone using the law-enforcement-only phone cracking tool GreyKey.
The statement regarding GreyKey prompted a request from Peirce’s council that the prosecution be required to provide access to the GrayKey hardware, software and documentation, such as manuals. Christopher M. Joseph, one of Pierce’s attorneys, was quoted from the motion stating “The government cannot claim its forensic tool rendered useless the passcodes officers compelled from Pierce while simultaneously denying the defense the information necessary to evaluate its claim.”
Prosecutors responded with a number of reasons they feel the request should be denied including pointing out that law enforcement already had the passcode from Pierce’s wife and that they believed the defense had failed to show how the GreyKey and related software and documentation would be material to Mr. Pierce’s defense.
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