Accidental pocket dials can be used in evidence, says US court

Accidental ‘pocket dials’ are now admissible in evidence against you, the US Appeals court has ruled.

In the case of Bertha Mae Huff and James Harold Huff vs. Carol Spaw (PDF), the latter had received an accidental call from James Huff in October 2013.

Unfortunately, Huff (at the time chairman of Kentucky’s Kenton County Airport Board) made the pocket-call to Spaw (senior executive assistant to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport CEO Candace McGraw), while on a business trip, reports Cnet.

The court previously heard that Spaw “believed that she heard James Huff and [Airport Board Vice Chairman Larry] Savage engaged in a discussion to discriminate unlawfully against McGraw and felt that it was her responsibility to record the conversation and report it through appropriate channels.”

As reported by the US Courthouse News Service, “Spaw allegedly took notes and recorded a portion of the 91-minute conversation on her iPhone, some of which included a personal conversation between Huff and his wife, Bertha.”

The resulting audio and written summary of the conversation were shared with members of the Airport Board and the Huffs sued in December 2013.

The Sixth Circuit Appeals court ruled that a person who “pocket-dials” a third party during a conversation does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Judge Danny Boggs of the US Court of Appeals ruled: A “person exposes his activities and statements, thereby failing to exhibit an expectation of privacy, if he inadvertently shares his activities and statements through neglectful use of a common telecommunication device.”

Boggs continued to point out that Huff might have tried “locking the phone, setting up a passcode, and using one of many downloadable applications that prevent pocket-dials and calls.”

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