In re: Warrants for Info Associated with Facebook Account FreeThemAllVA
In September 2020, some members of the Free Them All VA coalition participated in a protest at the home of Virginia’s attorney general, during which a political slogan was painted on the city sidewalk by his home. The police department later served a search warrant on Facebook seeking all records concerning the Free Them All VA Facebook page, including identifying information about Facebook users associated with the page, purportedly for the purpose of identifying the people who damaged public property by painting the slogan on the sidewalk. Representing the person who created the Facebook page and three anonymous people who would be affected by the broad warrant, we moved to quash or narrow the search warrant, arguing that it violated the Fourth Amendment by failing to limit the data seized to information that would be evidence of a crime, and that it violated the First Amendment by extending the search to political and other communications having no relationship to the crime under investigation. After the motion to quash was filed, the City of Leesburg agreed to end its investigation of the crime of destruction of property when the lone defendant offered to pay for the cost of power-washing the sidewalk. Accordingly, the search warrant was withdrawn and the Does dropped their motion to quash.