The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently affirmed an order from the Superior Court holding a petitioner in contempt for refusing to abide by an order to unlock his iPhone following a request from a Middlesex County Grand Jury.
A grand jury hearing facts in an ongoing investigation in Middlesex County involving an alleged assault and battery on two children requested that the prosecutor seek an order from a Superior Court judge ordering a person to produce the PIN code and/or password for his iPhone. A search warrant had issued out of the Lowell District Court authorizing a search of the phone, but the person refused to provide the PIN code. Following a hearing, a superior court judge entered an ordered detailing protocol how the petitioner would enter the PIN code so that the search warrant could be executed. This order also barred the prosecutor from introducing evidence against the petitioner’s “act of production” of providing the PIN code in any prosecution against him.
As a result, the person was held in contempt following his refusal to comply with the judge’s order and, thereafter, petitioned to the appeals court on the question of whether (a) he could be forced to provide the PIN/passcode to the iPhone; and (b) consequently, whether the contempt order was lawful. Continue reading →