February 10, 2012
Students Argue Right to Privacy in Cell Phone GPS Tracking Lawsuit
Franklin County Municipal Courthouse last Friday was awash with “lawyers” and “witnesses” who were all trying to discern whether a student’s rights were violated when police used a warrantless search of cell phone records to track his movements.
It was all part of a fictional case and the 29th annual High School District Ohio Mock Trial competition that brought over 500 students, teachers, advisors, and Columbus Bar volunteers to the courthouse for the afternoon. The Ohio Mock Trial Competition is the state’s largest high school academic competition and the second largest High School Mock Trial program in the nation.
In this year’s case, Storm Jackson, a college freshman, is accused of stealing prescription drugs while attending two real estate open houses and while visiting at the homes of two friends. The Defendant and his parents’ names were on a sign-in list at both of the open houses. Without a warrant, the police subpoenaed and obtained Storm Jackson’s cell phone GPS records before he was arrested. Storm Jackson has filed a motion to suppress claiming that the evidence seized was the result of an improper search and seizure that violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
Twenty-eight teams competed in Franklin County and the following teams won both trials advancing them to the regional round: Columbus Alternative High School, Dublin Jerome High School Team Cicero, Grove City High School Team Blue, Grove City Team Red, Westerville North High School Team Apollo, and Westerville North High School Team Tempest.
District winners from throughout the state will advance to the regional competition on Friday, February 24. The state finals are March 8-10 in Columbus. The state winner will compete in the national competition in Albuquerque (NM) in May.
The District Mock Trial Competition is sponsored by the Ohio Center for Law Related Education and organized by Judge James E. Green, Mahjabeen Qadir, Lydia Arko, and the Columbus Bar.