The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in coming days on the high stakes Carpenter v. United States case, an opinion that some legal scholars believe will be the 21st century’s most important electronic privacy decision to date.
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Matthew Tokson is available to comment on the case and opinion. Tokson is available by phone at 801-585-1863 and by e-mail: [email protected]. He is an expert on Fourth Amendment issues.
When the high court heard arguments about the case in November, Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited research by Tokson during discussion of the case, which legal scholars anticipate may transform privacy law in the digital age.
Sotomayor referenced a Northwestern University Law Review article by Tokson, “Knowledge and Fourth Amendment Privacy”, which explores issues related to cell phone location tracking and how courts have failed to apply the Fourth Amendment to such tracking, based on erroneous conclusions about what people know about their privacy. The article had previously been referenced by Nathan Wessler, an attorney representing Timothy Carpenter — one of the robbery suspects whose cell phone records revealed 12,898 separate points of location data.
At issue in Carpenter v. United States is whether the government violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution by accessing an individual’s historical cell phone locations records without a warrant. The case stems from a string of robberies at several Detroit Radio Shacks in 2010 in which the defendants were prosecuted with evidence gathered through extensive cellphone searches that tracked their movements and locations.
In addition to the direct mention by Sotomayor in court last fall, Tokson has previously blogged about the merits of the case with Lior Strahilevitz of the University of Chicago at Concurringopinions.com.
He also published an op-ed in New York magazine, “The Supreme Court’s Cell-Phone-Tracking Case Has High Stakes.”
Tokson joined the S.J. Quinney College of Law in July 2017. He moved to Utah after working as an assistant professor at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. Tokson graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College and with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was the executive articles editor of the law review and was admitted to the Order of the Coif. He served as law clerk to the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg and to the Honorable David H. Souter of the United States Supreme Court. Previously, he served as law clerk to the Honorable A. Raymond Randolph of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Immediately prior to joining the Chase faculty, he was a senior litigation associate with WilmerHale, in Washington, D.C.
Tokson has served as a fellow at the University of Chicago, where he taught intellectual property law, privacy law, and criminal procedure. Tokson’s scholarship has previously been published in the Boston College Law Review, the Iowa Law Review, the William & Mary Law Review, and the University of Chicago Law Review in addition to the Northwestern University Law Review article mentioned in the U.S. Supreme Court last fall.