Judge excludes key evidence in Clenney computer hacking case

Posted at 12:58 PM, June 27, 2024

A Florida judge on Wednesday excluded key evidence in the so-called computer hacking case involving OnlyFans model Courtney Clenney and her parents, ruling that prosecutors violated attorney-client privilege by accessing private conversations between the Clenneys and their attorneys.

young woman with long curly hair wears an orange prison jumper in court.

Courtney Clenney appeared in Miami-Dade court on June 26, 2024, for a hearing on her motion to suppress evidence. (Court TV)

The hacking case is separate from Courtney Clenney’s second-degree murder case for the stabbing death of boyfriend Christian Obumseli. Clenney claims she killed Obumseli in self-defense in their Miami apartment in 2022.

Investigators came across the group texts during the investigation of Obumseli’s death, resulting in prosecutors charging Clenney and her parents with unauthorized access to a computer.

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Clenney and her parents, Kim and Deborah Clenney, are accused of trying to access Obumseli’s laptop after Clenney’s arrest with her help from jail. With the ruling, Judge Laura Shearon Cruz granted the Clenney family’s request to suppress evidence of the communications, which formed a large part of the state’s case. Cruz’s two-page order did not address a related motion to dismiss the charges altogether but she is expected to do so in a more detailed ruling.

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The Clenney family claims in court documents that Courtney and Obumseli shared the laptop, which law enforcement left behind after searching the couple’s condo for evidence. Courtney’s parents collected it from the condo, and in group texts while Courtney was in jail, her parents and her lawyers discussed ways to unlock the laptop, according to the defense’s motion to suppress. Courtney eventually shared the four-digit access code, and “once it was determined that the laptop could be accessed, it was closed, and no files were reviewed or accessed,” the defense motion states.

Meanwhile, law enforcement obtained a search warrant to access the iCloud accounts of Courtney and her parents, which included group texts discussing the laptop. Lawyers for the Clenneys allege the group texts not only helped law enforcement track down and seize the laptop from the home of a defense expert, but also formed the basis of the hacking charges against the Clenneys.

5 people on a bench in court but the focus is on an older couple who look worried.

Courtney Clenney’s parents, Kim and Deborah Clenney, appeared in court on June 26, 2024, when a judge ruled on their motion to suppress. (Court TV)

A key point of contention was whether Courtney’s lawyers also represented her parents and whether an attorney-client relationship existed between the attorneys and the parents. Courtney’s lawyers argued the attorney-client relationship began immediately after Ombuseli’s death on April 3, 2022, and was memorialized in a written and signed retainer agreement on September 22, 2022, that was provided to the court.

“The communication sought to be excluded by the parties is protected by attorney-client privilege and/or work product privilege. This privilege was violated, albeit perhaps unknowingly, when the communication was read by prosecutors in this case,” Judge Cruz wrote in her order. “The proper remedy for this breach of privilege is exclusion of the communication from use in this case as evidence.”