The cause of Leiderman’s death has not been declared and will likely take months to certify, the medical examiner’s office said. The Ventura Police Department had no comment. Calls to Leiderman’s law office went unanswered.
Before his work with hackers, Leiderman defended a Ventura man who’d been arrested in a drug bust, and whose cellphone an officer searched without a warrant. The California Supreme Court eventually heard the case but ruled the officer’s actions constitutional. The decision sparked a rush by state legislators to try and shield electronic devices from warrantless searches. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a contrary ruling two years later. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that cellphones are “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life” that, were aliens to visit Earth, they “might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”
A life-long Deadhead and punk music fan, Leiderman successfully defended a slew of clients arrested under anti-drug laws. He took on clients who had their kids taken away after police found marijuana hidden in their homes. And he won. He served as a fierce advocate for medical marijuana patients, in particular, for more than a decade, writing a book on the topic in 2011 for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In 2013, he joined other activist lawyers in founding the Whistleblower Defense League. At its launch, he accused the federal government of silencing political dissenters using weapons of oppression, harassment, and fear.
“People are being subpoenaed, indicted, and incarcerated,” he said, “simply for exploring the truth.”
In an essay on his website, Leiderman defended lawyers who get a bad rap for taking on unpopular clients, including those charged with heinous crimes. The guiltier the client, he wrote, the greater the need for skilled representation. “I can only state that what follows is my own brand of patriotism,” he said. “I defend those charged with crimes because it is both my duty as a lawyer, and an American.”