AP California News
Associated Press
Sep 8, 2015 – 9:09 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Criminal defendants’ right to information that will aid in their defense does not extend before trial to social networking posts that are protected under federal law, a California appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The decision by a division of the San Francisco-based 1st District Court of Appeal rejected two murder defendants’ efforts to get access to records from the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of the victim and a prosecution witness.

One of the defendants, Lee Sullivan, argued that the social media postings would show the witness who implicated him in the 2013 drive-by shooting in San Francisco, Renesha Lee, was motivated by jealousy, and the victim, Jaquan Rice Jr., was a violent criminal who threatened people, according to court records. Prosecutors have said Rice’s shooting was gang-related.

The social media companies rejected subpoenas by the defendants, arguing that federal privacy law prevents them from disclosing the material the defendants were seeking.

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