The Department of Justice surprised Apple attorneys this week by reportedly placing a last-minute request to make the March 22nd hearing on the San Bernardino case an evidentiary hearing. The hearing change will allow for witness cross-examination based on previous court declarations, and each side will be allowed to question their own witnesses.
Changing the hearing type so quickly may seem like a questionable tactic against Apple considering their big March event is scheduled for just the day prior. Apple is expected to bring Erik Neuenschwander and Lisa Ollie up for questioning. Neuenschwander is Apple’s cryptography expert and product security and privacy manager. Ollie is Apple’s manager of global privacy and law enforcement compliance team.
Apple’s attorney reportedly speculated that the Department of Justice made the sudden request because they potentially weren’t comfortable “relying only on its legal arguments in the case.” Moving to an evidentiary hearing gives the FBI a platform to better showcase their arguments by having witnesses of their own on the stand for questioning. While the court will restrict use of electronic devices during the hearing, reporters will be present so expect a rundown of the arguments being made shortly after it wraps up.