Feb 182010
 February 18, 2010  Posted by  Court, Online

Joe Harris reports:

A judge is weighing whether Facebook’s right to privacy trumps a man’s rights to discovery for his defense in a criminal trial.

At issue is a motion from the attorney for former St. Louis City police Officer Bryan Pour, who authorities say used his department-issued pistol to shoot Jeffrey Bladdick in a bar parking lot. The motion seeks disclosure from Facebook of 23 individual user profiles and the actions of a Facebook group called “Jeff Bladdick is a bulletproof badass” going back to the day before the Nov. 9, 2008 incident.

Madison County Associate Judge James Hackett said he needed more time after hearing arguments from both sides Wednesday.

Pour’s attorney Albert Watkins said an anonymous tipster informed him of the group, which he believes included several officers involved in the investigation.

Watkins argued that his client’s constitutional rights fall within exceptions of the 2000 Electronic Communications Privacy Act and said that law enforcement regularly accesses the same records for its own investigations.

Pour faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

“If law enforcement is entitled to those records, it seems inherently flawed to not allow a criminally accused person who’s looking at 30 years in prison to the same information when it is clear that something was said,” Watkins said.

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