Hyatt Luncheon – HON. REGGIE B. WALTON
On Wednesday, March, 9, 2016, we were proud to host The Honorable Reggie B. Walton, Senior U.S. District Judge, District of Columbia, and former Presiding Judge, U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). After a wonderful introduction from his best friend and college roommate, the Honorable Judge Graham, Judge Walton gave a fascinating talk on his experience on the FISA Court.
Judge Walton began his remarks with a timely reference to the San Bernardino iPhone controversy. Judge Walton expressed that he was torn between the government interests in unlocking the phone versus compelling privacy interests. He also provided a unique fact, which while public, is not entirely in the public’s eye, in that this iPhone was not one of the two personal phones already destroyed by the assassins, but was rather a work issued phone that one of them used. Thus, the balancing act in this case may be different from that of another case in the future.
Judge Walton explained the rigorous vetting process it took for him to become a member of the FISA Court, and also explained the logistics of the 11 members of the Court and how three of them have to permanently reside in Washington, D.C.
Judge Walton then addressed the public perception of the FISA court being a “rubber stamp” for applications from the government, and vehemently rebuked this notion as false. While acknowledging the vital role the media plays in a democratic society, Judge Walton critiqued the media for its bias in this area. He explained that first, attorneys working on behalf of the Court filter the applications, and those that are not likely to be approved are sent back to the government before the Court even sees them. Further, the ones the Court does consider are not nearly approved at the 99% rate the media reported. Judge Walton lamented that the actual statistics, also a matter of public record, did not receive anywhere near the type of media attention that the original 99% number did.
Judge Walton concluded his remarks with a passionate analysis of NSA’s collection of meta-data from cell phones, and how national security interests have been affected in the post-Snowden era.
Judge Walton was then kind enough to answer several questions from our audience.
All in all it was a riveting talk by Judge Walton. Thank you Judge Walton and thanks to the many members of the Judiciary and our bar members who attended!
- Category: Hyatt Luncheons
- Date: March 9, 2016