This is either the most brilliantly executed defensive move I've heard about in quite some time, or possibly the most ill-conceived air-grab since my buddy asked to read his wife's texts "to prove she's getting them ok." Only time will tell.
Another question to remand to the future historians - what's the deal with the NSA's recently revealed phone data collection program? Massive invasion of privacy? A necessary, albeit heavy-handed tactic in the ongoing fight against terrorists?
I don't know. I have opinions, but I don't know. One thing I do know is that June 12th, 2013 will always be remembered as the day one defense attorney first turned the tables on the NSA's no-longer-secret surveillance program.
This is beautiful, really. Marshall Dore Louis, attorney for Florida's Terrance Brown, has decided to use recent revelations to his avantage. "Oh, NSA, I hear you're spying on all of our phone calls. Well, how bout you let me see what you found so I can prove my client's innocence"* - or something like that.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Brown is one of five men accused of robbing a series of armored trucks making cash deliveries to banks a few years ago. The prosecution has been using phone records to prove that the men were all nearby when the robberies occurred.
Well, the only problem is that prosecutors have been unable to obtain records for Brown during the period before September, 2010 (when at least one of the robberies took place). You see, Brown's carrier, MetroPCS, simply doesn't keep records that far back.
But wait a minute. Louis says he wants those records to exonerate his client by proving he was nowhere near the area of the robbery at Lighthouse Point in July, 2010.
"Who has extensive phone records on American citizens? Aha! The NSA of course! I just heard about that on the news."**
"The president of the United States has recognized this program has been ongoing since 2006...to gather the phone numbers [and related information] of everybody including my client in 2010," Louis said.***
He has a point. Imagine if this ploy actually worked. Seriously. Imagine it. Imagine lawyers all over the country asking the NSA to help prove their clients' innocence.
Imagine the NSA laughing and saying no. That's a lot easier to imagine, I guess.
* I don't know what Mr. Louis was thinking. This is what I would have been thinking.
** Once again, I assume he must've had this train of thought. Just go with it, please.
*** He really said that - in court on Wednesday.