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Judge Declines to Return Confiscated Property to Former State Data Scientist

January 13th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Former state data scientist Rebekah Jones appeared in a virtual court hearing Wednesday, seeking the return of her computer and other devices confiscated by FDLE in December.

FDLE raided Jones’ home searching for evidence to tie her to an unauthorized message sent on a Department of Health emergency alert system.

Jones’ attorney argued the property should be returned, alleging the evidence used to execute the warrant was insufficient.

Judge John Cooper disagreed, an indicated he did believe there was probable cause.

He declined to return the property for now, requesting input from the State Attorney who would be the one to make the decision of whether or not to press charges.

“I just don’t think the state can keep evidence when it has already made a decision it’s not going to use it. If it’s investigating that and can’t determine it, I think the state’s entitled under the separation of powers to have a reasonable amount of time to make that decision,” said Judge Cooper.

Judge Cooper added he’d likely rule to return Jones’ items if the State Attorney says he doesn’t intend to charge her with a crime.

On the other hand, he would rule against returning the property if charges are being considered.

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