Lawsuit Challenges Kelsey Smith Law
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Kelsey Smith law aims to help find missing people using their cell phone’s location. It became law in Missouri Tuesday, but a new lawsuit is trying to put a stop to it. The lawsuit claims that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and that there’s nothing in the law to protect people from law enforcement abusing their authority.
Greg and Missey Smith are frustrated that someone is trying to strike down a law they fought so hard for. Kelsey’s Law requires cell phone companies to give law enforcement a customer’s cell phone location in case of an emergency. It’s already passed in seven states, Missouri makes eight.
It’s named for Kelsey Smith, abducted June 2, 2007, and found dead four days later. Investigators said Smith was killed before they asked for cell phone records, however once they did, they found her body within an hour.
“To have a tool that saves lives and to have someone say no we don’t need that it doesn’t make sense to me,” said Greg Smith.
Missouri Representative Jeanie Lauer fought for the law to pass in Missouri and says she’s already seen ways it can help.
“[It] was also used in Joplin during the tornado,” she said, “And they were able to find victims there and bring them back and it’s a wonderful thing to help save people.”
The Bolivar, Mo. based law firm Douglas, Haun and Heidemann tells FOX 4 it filed the class action lawsuit because it believes the law violates citizens civil rights. While the law says it would be only used in an emergency, who defines what an emergency is? Who would protect citizens from law enforcement abusing their power? And the law firm says Kelsey’s Law prevents people from suing if they felt their rights were violated. But Smith says these kind of “held harmless” clauses are common in laws.
“I mean you have to weigh the rights of the person in trouble with the rights of someone who wants to file a lawsuit,” he said.
The Attorney General’s office tells FOX 4 it’s reviewing the lawsuit and intends to vigorously defend the constitutionality of Kelsey’s Law, which it adds passed with strong bi-partisan support