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Posts tagged: Luke Malek

9th Circuit judges skeptical in Idaho NSA surveillance case

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was highly skeptical this morning of arguments on behalf of a Coeur d’Alene woman that NSA cell phone surveillance violates her constitutional right to privacy; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. When Coeur d’Alene attorney Peter J. Smith began his arguments, noting that the plaintiff in the case is Anna J. Smith, 9th Circuit Judge Richard Tallman interrupted him, saying, “Who’s your wife.” “That is correct, your honor,” Smith replied. Later, when Smith was arguing that a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court case regarding specific phone surveillance of a criminal suspect for a three-day period, Smith v. Maryland, shouldn’t bar a privacy claim in this case of sweeping, bulk data collection, Smith said he wasn’t asking the judges to overturn Smith v. Maryland. The judges burst out laughing. They said that’s not their place.

In their questioning of attorneys on both sides, the judges, who also included Judges Margaret McKeown and Michael Hawkins, had sharp questions over whether the Coeur d’Alene woman has standing to bring the case. U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill earlier ruled that she did, but held that she couldn’t prevail under current high-court precedents, including the 1979 case.

“We knew that we’d be faced with a lot of skepticism, and we knew that standing was going to be a big issue,” said Idaho Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, who is among Smith’s attorneys in the case. “I think they were intrigued probably by just the way we filed this case, just taking a client who we knew well and would be tolerant of the whole process.” He added, “I’m very excited. This case is a long way from being done, because this issue is a long way from being done. There’s a lot to be decided on privacy in the digital age.”

Thomas Byron, attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, told the court that Winmill correctly applied the law in his earlier dismissal of the case. When Hawkins asked him, “By an individual popping open their cell phone and typing … that’s voluntarily giving up that information… (and the) expectation of privacy?” Byron responded, “That was the court’s finding in Smith v. Maryland.”

The Idaho case has attracted widespread attention, including friend-of-the-court briefs filed by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich, the Center for National Security Studies, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and 33 technical experts and legal scholars, arguing the bulk data collection is unconstitutional. The three senators, all members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, argued that they've seen “no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through means that caused far less harm to the privacy interests of millions of Americans.”

Idaho case challenging NSA cell phone surveillance goes before 9th Circuit today

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Seattle this morning in an Idaho case in which a nurse from Coeur d’Alene sued the president and other top national officials over the bulk collection of cell phone data by the National Security Agency.

In legal briefs submitted to the court, attorneys for Anna J. Smith wrote, “To decide the Fourth Amendment issue here, the Court must answer a question that the Supreme Court has never confronted—whether the government’s long-term collection and aggregation of call records invades a reasonable expectation of privacy. … It does.”

U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill dismissed the case in June, writing that existing U.S. Supreme Court precedents hold that data collection doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, but that the court could – and very likely might – change that precedent. Smith appealed.

“What is novel here is not primarily the nature of the data collected, but the scale of the collection,” wrote her lawyers, who include state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene; Coeur d’Alene attorney Peter J. Smith IV, the woman’s husband; and attorneys for the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Technological advances have vastly augmented the government’s surveillance power and exposed much more personal information to government inspection and intrusive analysis. If courts ignored this reality, the essential privacy long preserved by the Fourth Amendment would be eliminated.”

They argue that years-old court precedents came long before the ubiquitous use of cell phones by Americans. “When collected in bulk, call records reveal religious, familial, political, and intimate relationships; sleeping and work habits; health problems; and business plans,” the lawyers wrote. The government could do targeted surveillance of suspects in terrorism cases without bulk-collecting data from all Americans, they wrote, and still accomplish its goals. “The bulk collection of Americans’ call records is extraordinarily intrusive,” they wrote.

Smith contends that her Verizon cell phone was her primary means of communication with family, friends, her employer, her children’s teacher, her doctor, her lawyer and others, and that her communications were none of the government’s business – and had nothing to do with terrorism. Winmill found that Smith had standing to sue, but couldn’t prevail under current court precedents.

Malek decides against run for Secretary of State

Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, who had been considering running for Idaho Secretary of State - in part because there's currently no one from North Idaho among the state's top elected officials - has decided against a run. Here's his statement:

After careful consideration over the holidays with my wife and family, I have decided against seeking the office of Secretary of State next year. My passion for serving the State of Idaho is put to best use right now through focusing on my home district and on the issues important to my home, North Idaho. I am honored by the many people who urged me to run, and those who have reached out over the last few weeks with their advice and support. Tara and I want to thank you all.  We hope you had a Merry Christmas and wish you a happy holiday season.

Add Malek to the list: Number of potential GOP candidates for Secretary of State grows

Add another name to the list of those pondering a possible run for Idaho Secretary of State now that longtime Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has announced he’ll retire after his current term: Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene. “It’s definitely intriguing,” said Malek, a first-term state representative and former deputy Kootenai County prosecutor. He said supporters have been urging him to run, and part of the appeal is the chance to get someone from North Idaho into the ranks of Idaho’s top state elected officials – currently there are none. “It’s an extremely important position, and I do think I would bring a qualified skill set to it as well,” Malek said.

He listed his law degree; his legislative and electoral experience; his work running an urban renewal agency in Post Falls before he went to law school; and his work with corporations as an attorney; Malek also served as North Idaho regional director for then-Gov. Jim Risch. But the 32-year-old also admitted he’s torn. “I do love where I’m at,” he said. “I have the best constituents in the world, and a job I love back in my home district. … I’m watching to see how the candidates shake out.” Malek is currently director of legal affairs for Heritage Health/Dirne Community Health Center in Coeur d’Alene. A newlywed, he holds degrees from the College of Idaho and the University of Idaho College of Law.

Others who already have expressed interest in the 2014 race from the GOP side are former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, who announced his candidacy even before Ysursa bowed out; former state Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise; current chief deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane; and current Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian. I’ll have a full rundown in my Sunday column this week.

“I expected some folks to enter into it, and it should be a lively primary,” Ysursa said. “Once the whole field is settled, we’ll see. I’m sure the Democrats will try to run some folks too.” Ysursa, the state’s chief elections offer, said with a grin, “I’ll put ‘em all on the ballot.”

Idaho lawsuit challenges government’s tracking of cell phone calls

First-term state Rep. Luke Malek of Coeur d’Alene filed a federal lawsuit against President Obama and top national security officials late yesterday on behalf of Coeur d’Alene resident Anna Smith, contending that collection of information about her Verizon cell phone use violates the law and the Constitution. “Plaintiff Anna Smith is a mom and a neonatal intensive care nurse,” the lawsuit states, whose “primary means of communication is with her cell phone.”

The suit says Smith “communicates with her family, friends, employer, her children’s teachers, her doctor, her legal counsel, and nearly everyone else by way of her cell phone. None of these communications relate in any way to international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. Rather, these communications are being monitored simply because they are occurring.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court asks the court to declare the government’s collection of the data in violation of federal law and the 1st and 4th amendments to the U.S. Constitution; permanently bar it; and order the government to purge all its call records relating to Smith’s communications. Malek’s co-counsel in the case is Peter J. Smith IV of Lukins and Annis, who is married to the plaintiff; you can read the complaint here. Malek is a Republican representative and a former deputy Kootenai County prosecutor.

Peter Smith said of his wife, “It’s kind of an interesting situation; she has access to resources that a normal person may not, that is legal counsel and knowing that this case probably won’t be dealt with quickly or easily and probably will wind its way through.” Smith said he approached Malek to serve as co-counsel on the case.

School reforms draw candidates in North Idaho legislative district

Two decades ago, Coeur d'Alene's delegation to the state Legislature was all-Democrat, like most of the North Idaho Panhandle back then. Now, it's all-Republican, but District 4, which takes in the city, was the last Panhandle district to send a Democrat to Boise - and Democratic Rep. George Sayler's fourth term just ended two years ago. Now a new crop of Democrats, all first-time candidates and opponents of Idaho's controversial school reform laws, is trying to retake the district's seats. You can read my full story here on the district's races this fall.

Malek to run for Chadderdon’s House seat, with her endorsement

Luke Malek, former North Idaho regional director for then-Gov. Jim Risch and currently a Kootenai County deputy prosecutor, has announced he's running for the seat being vacated next year by four-term state Rep. Marge Chadderdon, R-Coeur d'Alene; Chadderdon has endorsed Malek, a Republican and Kootenai County native who bills himself as a “conservative leader who understands the importance of economic growth, increased job opportunities and smaller government.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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