Scott

A judge in Charlotte, North Carolina, has unsealed a set of 529 court documents in hundreds of criminal cases detailing the use of a stingray, or cell-site simulator, by local police. This move, which took place earlier this week, marks a rare example of a court opening up a vast trove of applications made by police to a judge, who authorized each use of the powerful and potentially invasive device.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the records seem to suggest that judges likely did not fully understand what they were authorizing. Law enforcement agencies nationwide have taken extraordinary steps to preserve stingray secrecy. As recently as this week, prosecutors in a Baltimore robbery case dropped key evidence that stemmed from stingray use rather than fully disclose how the device was used.
The newspaper also reported on Friday that the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office, which astonishingly had also never previously seen the applications filed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), will now review them and determine which records also need to be shared with defense attorneys. Criminals could potentially file new claims challenging their convictions on the grounds that not all evidence was disclosed to them at the time.
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