Lots of speaking engagements in June, and some interesting topics…

June is a busy month for speaking for me, with 4 lectures in a 2 week period.

Last weekend I was pleased to speak at the Maine Homegrown expo, appearing on the Law Panel, and giving my second annual talk on How to Deal With the DEA to a great group of attendees.  I will try to upload the video of that talk in the near future.

This coming week, I am pleased to address the United States Commission on Civil Rights on the Criminalization of the Mentally Ill in Maine on June 14th and to speak to the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers on the topic of Weeding Your Jury Pool With Jury Questionnaires on June 15th.

A busy start to the Summer, no doubt!

U.S. Attorney Drops Federal “Operation Pacifier” Case

The work I do defending people accused of child pornography crimes has led me to discover the panoply of scary ways in which the Government skirts the Fourth Amendment.  In recent years, one such group of cases came to be known as the “Operation Pacifier” cases.

Essentially, the facts are as follows.  The FBI was – quite correctly – looking to take down a website where there were digital exchanges of child pornography.  The website misconfigured its internet protocol (IP) address, and the FBI was able to discover the location of the website in North Carolina.  Rather than taking down the site and investigating the existing data, the FBI took it one step further.

The FBI ported the site to its facility in Virginia, where they continued to operate the site for two weeks.  Essentially then, the FBI spent two weeks distributing child pornography.

Beyond that atrocity, the FBI used what they called a “network investigative technique” related to the IP addresses that contacted their website during Operation Pacifier.  Most analysts have concluded that the vaguely worded “network investigative technique” really means that the government was placing malware on the computers of those who visited Playpen.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution still applies to the digital world.  Last week, the FBI dropped an Operation Pacifier case against one of my Clients.

It is clearly important for the government to investigate child pornography offenses.  However, investigations with a honey pot, like Operation Pacifier, should not be permitted.  In taking this a step too far, the government spoiled the legitimate leads that they garnered when taking down Playpen.

Opening Post

My name is Tim Zerillo and I am the Managing Partner of Hallett, Zerillo & Whipple, P.A.   We are a Portland, Maine law firm that handles a variety of cases throughout the State of Maine.

I also write and lecture on a variety of legal topics.  For media inquiries or speaking opportunities, please email tzerillo@hzwlaw.com or call 207.400.6915.