The case involves a man named Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Feng was charged in conjunction with six other defendants. And as part of the government’s effort to convict Feng, the feds wanted—and still want—Apple’s help to unlock Feng’s seized iPhone 5S running iOS 7. Last Friday, United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein invited the prosecutors to explain why it was still necessary for him to sign off on a proposed order that would compel Apple’s assistance.
“In light of the fact that the defendant against whom evidence from the subject telephone was to be used has pleaded guilty, I respectfully direct the government to explain why the application is not moot,” he wrote.
Later that day, United States Attorney Robert Capers wrote:
This matter is not moot because a federal court has issued a search warrant, based upon probable cause, authorizing law enforcement to seize evidence of narcotics offenses that is stored on the Target Phone, and…