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Judge Doesn't Care About Supreme Court GPS Case 202

Posted by Soulskill
from the he-is-the-decider dept.
nonprofiteer writes "The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether or not law enforcement needs a warrant before they put a GPS tracker on a person's car. A judge in St. Louis doesn't seem to care about that, though. He ruled last week (PDF) that the FBI didn't need a warrant to track the car of a state employee they suspected was collecting a paycheck without actually going to work. (Their suspicions were confirmed.) While in favor of corrupt government employees being caught, it's a bit disturbing that a federal judge would decide a warrant wasn't needed while the Supreme Court has said the issue is unclear."
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Judge Doesn't Care About Supreme Court GPS Case

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  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:13PM (#38578204)

    unclear does not mean one way or the other, until then its the decision of the local law

    • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:16PM (#38578292) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. Until the Supremes rule, the Federal judge has no prior cases on which to base a ruling. The Federal judge has to make a decision now which may be overturned on appeal based on subsequent Supreme Court rulings, but until the Supremes rule on the issue, all bets are off.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        But, what is the precedent for this type thing?

        Do most federal judges not hold out on ruling on cases that are currently before SCOTUS?

        • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:29PM (#38578494) Journal

          Well, even if a case is before the SCOTUS it may be different enough that the SCOTUS ruling will not affect the case before the lower court.

          I would think that putting a GPS on a Government Vehicle wouldn't require a Warrant of any sort, simply because the owner gave permission to tract the vehicle. In this case the judge is probably correct in application of legal principles and won't be affected by the SCOTUS ruling, which probably has to do with private vehicles.

          For the others that are complaining about rights being violated, sometimes the world isn't as black and white as you would like. I have no problem with employers of any kind, including governments putting GPS tracking devices on their own vehicles. In fact, I would consider it prudent behavior and anyone not wanting to be tracked in employer's vehicles shouldn't be using them.

          • by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:37PM (#38578628) Homepage

            employer's vehicles

            Reading TFA, the car actually belongs to the guy, not the employer:

            Whether the Constitution allows police to put a tracking device on a car without either a warrant or the owner's permission

            Emphasis mine.

          • by g0bshiTe (596213)
            From TFA the vehicle belonged to the employee in question.
            • by g0bshiTe (596213)
              As an aside the dipshit should have argued that another vehicle was being used for his transport, there-by negating the gps tracking. GPS only says where the vehicle is, it doesn't say who was driving.
        • The precedent would be the appelate court ruling that was being appealed to the Supreme Court. The appelate court likely ruled they were legal. So they would stay legal till the Supreme Court says they illegal or untill Congress changes the law.
          • by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:37PM (#38579430) Homepage

            The precedent would be the appelate court ruling that was being appealed to the Supreme Court.

            Actually, no. The case being heard by the Supreme Court is being appealed from the D.C. Circuit. Decisions of the D.C. Circuit are not binding on other circuits. However the article says the Judge cited an Eighth Circuit decision United States v. Marquez. As the Eastern District of Missouri is part of the Eighth Circuit, the decision in that case is binding on the lower court.

            Effectively, it appears the judge had no choice. If the case citation is accurate, binding precedent in the Eighth Circuit appears to be that no warrant is required for GPS tracking unless and until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.

            • by icebike (68054) *

              Exactly. The article makes it sound like this judge should have sat on his thumbs until SCOTUS made a decision, when the facts of the matter are somewhat more settled within his jurisdiction. There is no way he can rule based on his perception of what might be decided sometime in the future.

              That we have rulings in one circuit that are somehow not binding on other circuits would seem a clear violation of the equal protection clause, showing once again just how little regard most courts have for the constit

              • The Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause applies only to state governments. For the judicial system your looking at the due process clause in the Fifth Amendement. Having each circuit have its own limited common law doesn't violate due process. You still have a process that is formalized and the same across the country.
                • Re:RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

                  by icebike (68054) * on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @09:27PM (#38580514)

                  The Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause WORDING applies only to state governments, but the REQUIREMENT of equal protection has been read to apply to the federal government as a component of Fifth Amendment due process. The executive branch is held to this standard, and can not tax you more for living in California as opposed to living in Rhode Island. The Judiciary seems to exempt itself from this provision, unwisely IMHO.

                  You can't claim due process is met everywhere when The Fourth Amendment means different things in different places.

                  • Actually, you can claim due process is met everywhere--it's just that what it means varies somewhat from place to place. While on the one hand this does seem facially to be a violation of equal protection, it does have significant advantages in that it allows the Supreme Court, when it considers what law should be for the whole country, to see what other intelligent courts have done in the same situation and what the consequences of that have been. (Sort of an analog to the "States as laboratories" argume

            • by Moryath (553296)

              Decisions of the D.C. Circuit are not binding on other circuits.

              No, but decisions of other circuits do constitute a strong advisory opinion.

              Effectively, it appears the judge had no choice. If the case citation is accurate, binding precedent in the Eighth Circuit appears to be that no warrant is required for GPS tracking unless and until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.

              Actually, the judge did have a choice. One of the reasons the Supreme Court will normally take up a case is to resolve conflicts between [cornell.edu]

            • by glodime (1015179)

              I caution against the assumption that precedent ruling = immutable or binding on future cases.

        • by tnk1 (899206)

          The only reason a judge really would have to hold off would be an injunction of some kind or, more likely, if they felt they would get appealed on and they decide to stall things to see what happens.

          Still, while no judge wants to be overturned on appeal, waiting to see what happens in the higher courts is not a procedural reason to stop a trial unless there are actual injunctions and/or motions. At least in the US, there is a right to a speedy trial. Of course, there's plenty of reasons that a trial could

        • But, what is the precedent for this type thing?

          Do most federal judges not hold out on ruling on cases that are currently before SCOTUS?

          Who gives a shit?
          Precedent is not law.
          Precedent is a tool for consistency. Precedent is a tool to make a judge's job easier, and thus help keep the courts expedient.

          EVERY SINGLE CASE is to be judged on its own merits, regardless of whether or not the exact same thing was decided on last Tuesday.
          Furthermore, any judge can give a ruling that disagrees with a prior ruling by a higher court. When this happens, the losing party will file an appeal to a higher court, and the higher court will read the lower cou

          • by honkycat (249849)

            The purpose of honoring precedent is not for judicial expediency so much as providing stability and predictability in the judicial system. Without a strong respect for precedent, it would be nearly impossible to understand how the laws are going to be interpreted. Since the interpretation and application of those laws is often complicated, lawyers and decision makers need to be able to expect that future rulings will be similar to past rulings.

            Of course, you are correct that precedent is not strictly bindin

            • Expedience and consistency are closely intertwined.
              Consistency is already a goal. If the lawyers have to go through the same arguments and the judge has to look up the same laws every time the same issue comes up, it'll take forever. If they want to be quick, they risk sacrificing consistency.

              If lawyer A can just say "Dickson vs Twatson, 1994." and the judge can go look it up, you get consistent and expedient results.

          • The United States is a Common Law country. That means simply that precedent is in fact law. If you don't like the idea of courts establishing law through precedent, then move to a Statutory Law country.

            • The United States is a Common Law country. That means simply that precedent is in fact law. If you don't like the idea of courts establishing law through precedent, then move to a Statutory Law country.

              This is just 100% incorrect. The only body that can create laws is Congress.
              Precedence is a tool for consistency and expedience. Any judge can choose to ignore precedent - it is not law.

        • by muridae (966931)
          If they hold on a ruling long enough, then the defendant did not receive a "speedy" trial as the 6th amendment requires, and the case can be dismissed on appeal. SCOTUS agreed to hear the case, and may issue a ruling, but until that time the ruling is issued, all the local judge has to go on is local, district, and prior federal precedent.
      • by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:24PM (#38578418) Journal

        Judges will usually hold a case where a higher court is hearing a case that could affect it to prevent it from having to be reviewed (or possibly appealed and remanded) if the judge's decision is contrary to the higher court's opinion. It's basically an attempt to save the court's time and resources.

        • Holding the case here wouldn't help. This ruling effects how the FBI opperates. Either the FBI has to change how they use GPS or the don't have to change. Here the judge is saying they don't have to change untill the Supreme Court says they have to change.
          • Judges routinely hold cases where it affects how law enforcement operates. It doesn't always happen, but it's pretty common when cases are pending at higher levels. The FBI may have pushed for a ruling here because of legal uncertainties, but it suggests something in how widespread warrantless GPS tracking may be if this decision throws off the entire agency.

            • by Aighearach (97333)

              The judge holds the case where it isn't time sensitive, or where a right to a speedy trial is not invoked. Usually everybody wants to wait, so the judge also agrees to wait. It is expensive for all sides, it is always better to wait when the matter is not truly time sensitive. In this case, waiting would mean that every active investigation correctly following current rules that is using this technology would be held up. That's just not acceptable.

              I'm really hoping they will decide that tracking is searchin

              • They have existing cases that say that it's permissible, so operating on that basis without this judge ruling should be possible.

                This is one of those things that should be hard (for relative values of difficulty) for police to do. They claim it would take LE five guys to watch him. My response is: So? If you want to get the guy, either assign five guys or get a warrant. It doesn't seem like it would be difficult to do if there's already evidence against him. That kind of thing doesn't appear to be inva

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      And it's not clear if a ruling on the broader matter by the supreme court would matter to the specific case (it might, it might not).

    • Depends on whether you think everything's ok to do without a warrant until the Supreme Court says it's not ok, or if you think nothing is ok to do without a warrant until the Supreme Court says it's ok. When it comes to emerging technology, I definitely think it should be approved by the Court before being used without a warrant.

      Since the obligatory car metaphor is already taken by TFA, let's instead say a mind-reading device is developed and cops want to use it before adequate testing for health problems

    • It wasn't the guy's own car, it was a government car. Don't you have the right to track your own property?

      If it were the guy's own car it would be different, and I'd bet that in that case the judge would have waited for the SCOTUS to act.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:13PM (#38578218) Homepage

    Was this Judge Honey Badger, by any chance?

  • I'm pretty sure a lower court judge can't just throw out a case because the Supreme Court will probably make a decision sometime later in the year that MAY OR MAY NOT contradict his own. The author of this article makes it sound like, just because some Justices expressed some reservations in their questioning of the case, that it's a foregone conclusion they're going to rule GPS tracking unconstitutional. Personally, I find it highly doubtful that such a conservative court is going to do any such thing. I s

    • by Scareduck (177470)

      Personally, I find it highly doubtful that such a conservative statist court is going to do any such thing.

      FTFY.

    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:27PM (#38578464)

      I would frankly be surprised if anyone in that chamber has even *glanced* at the U.S. Constitution since they took a required class on it once in law school.

      I'm pretty sure they took more than just one class on constitutional law, and have read the entirety of it more often than you suspect. As for it being a rubber stamp - it can't be at once a rubber stamp for both the President and for Congress, since those two are pretty much at loggerheads over everything these days.

      Personally, I'm pretty sure that if you'd ask anyone of the justices, they would all say that they're ruling in defense of citizens' Constitutional rights, and that they just happen to disagree with your personal interpretation of it. Or do you think that the Constitution is the only writing in history where everyone who reads it always comes to the same conclusion? I mean, computer software doesn't even behave like that, and it has one less level of human involvement: the interpreter/compiler. A software writer is as human as a constitutional law writer.

      • Sir! How *DAST" you compare me to a lawyer?
      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        The fact that the Court almost always splits along 5-4 partisan lines on any case involving liberal vs. conservative politics these days should tell you that politics is their primary concern, not the Constitution. If you think that the Justices in SCOTUS see the Constitution as anything more than a tool to advance the agenda of the party whose President appointed them, then you are truly naive. Just look at how Citizen's United broke down. This was a case where the Republican Party stood to make a major ga

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          If you think that the Justices in SCOTUS see the Constitution as anything more than a tool to advance the agenda of the party whose President appointed them, then you are truly naive.

          You do realize, don't you, that SCOTUS justices are appointed for life? They have no need to advance any agenda to keep their jobs. They don't have to worry what political parties think, they'll be A-list attendees at any party or event they go to.

          What is more likely to be true is that the President who appointed them will appoint someone with a judicial temperment that matches his own desires, and the justice will continue that temperment into his appointment.

          While you may see this as "no difference", i

        • If you think that the Justices in SCOTUS see the Constitution as anything more than a tool to advance the agenda of the party whose President appointed them, then you are truly naive.

          I would suggest at looking at some data about who appointed whom, and how their decisions panned out. You might be surprised. Justice Souter, for example, was so famously a thorn in the side of the Republican Party that he was probably single-handedly responsible for the march toward nominating more politically known entities to the SCOTUS. Furthermore, one of the dissenting justices in the United Citizens case, Justice Stevens, was appointed by a Republican President.

          Finally, you're conflating two things:

      • by bratwiz (635601)

        That's why they use a R-u-b-b-e-r stamp.... things are getting stretched mighty thin....

    • The NDAA has yet to be challenged. While you seem to have already decided how a future court (which may or may not look like the current court) will decide it, it's very hard to guess where some justices will come down, especially on things like unlimited confinement for an arrest made in US jurisdictions. Chief Justice Rehnquist was in favor of California legalizing medical marijuana, for example, something that surprised many.

      Back to the original point, the judge doesn't have to throw out a case. He ca

    • by flooey (695860)

      The present-day SCOTUS is little more than a rubber stamp for the President and Congress. And even when they do make the rare controversial ruling, it's for some conservative political end (like the Citizen's United [wikipedia.org] case), not in some noble defense of citizens' Constitutional rights. I would frankly be surprised if anyone in that chamber has even *glanced* at the U.S. Constitution since they took a required class on it once in law school.

      Indeed, you can clearly see that in such rulings as Boumediene v. Bush [wikipedia.org] (Guantanamo prisoners have the right of habeus corpus), Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association [wikipedia.org] (violent video games are protected by the First Amendment), and Bullcoming v. New Mexico [wikipedia.org] (the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to confront the actual accuser, another person that is employed in the same role is not sufficient).

      The current Court is certainly conservative, but it's hardly a rubber stamp on the government. The Jus

  • Disturbing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:16PM (#38578282) Homepage

    At first I thought I read "government owned vehicle" but then I realized this was a government employee with a personally owned vehicle.

    This is the WRONG APPROACH. These types of short-sighted rulings open doors for vary bad behavior on the part of government. There are other ways to confirm the behavior of a suspect... of course those ways are less lazy and I guess that's what we are trying to enable the government to be... is lazy... and to collect their pay checks for doing nothing... oh the irony.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      you call it lazy, I call it more efficient, they were going to track the dude no matter what, and its perfectly legal to tail them, instead of having a gang of agents all on the clock driving around the city in government transportation they let a computer device do it for them

      its "green" law enforcement (har har)

      • Re:Disturbing... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DriedClexler (814907) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:40PM (#38579478)

        But why do you have to track someone's car *at all* to know whether they're showing up at work? Can't you just, like, check the workplace for the presence of this worker?

        Also, the lack of any discernable output from him should kinda clue you in without having to track where his car is.

        I'm just interested how they got the point of deciding that the only way to "catch" him was to track his car. For my whole life, my bosses have known when I don't show up for work without needing to tack a GPS unit onto my ride...

    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      Sounds like a good case for jury nullification.
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:20PM (#38578348) Homepage

    So should judges to just sit on their hands and stall until the Supreme Court has told them how to decide the cases in front of them? Or should they do their job and decide those cases promptly, based on their understanding of the existing case law? If the Supreme Court later says that their interpretation is incorrect then it gets overturned, if not then it stays in force. I hate to break it to you, but there are countless legal questions where the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on them, such as one Court of Appeals ruling one way, and another ruling differently. Until a case makes its way to the Supreme Court to settle the question, judges are supposed to continue hear and decide cases; that's their job.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      So should judges to just sit on their hands and stall until the Supreme Court has told them how to decide the cases in front of them

      No, judges should have a brain and not create laws where they don't exist. Government needs to be specifically allowed by law to do anything. If there is no law to specifically support an action, the government is barred from doing it. On the other hand people are allowed by birth to do anything provided there is no law to disallow it. A judge who doesn't understand this basic concept of FREEDOM should not be anywhere near a bench. Of course the above only applies to civilized countries. In the US however t

  • In before GVR [wikipedia.org].

  • by PunditGuy (1073446) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:27PM (#38578458)
    Wouldn't it have been easier and more efficacious to sit at the guy's work and see if he showed up or not? People can get to work a variety of ways, and a variety of people can use cars.
  • The government can plant devices in public places (e.g. a listening device with double-sided tape on the seat of your chair) that can then be transported by you (and not the government) into a private place.

  • Where people in power no longer feel the letter of the law needs to be obeyed,
    people are no longer entitled to a lawyer or trial and can be held indefinitely.
  • From the linked story, there are two issues before the Supreme Court:

    1. Does using a GPS device to follow you around without a warrant violate your Fourth Amendment rights? There's extra language in there, too: A key point seems to be that when they're following you around, they're doing so on the public streets. The argument could be made that following your car is different from a wiretap in this respect, in that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you're talking on the phone at home, but yo

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:04PM (#38579034) Homepage Journal

      From the linked story, there are two issues before the Supreme Court:

      1. Does using a GPS device to follow you around without a warrant violate your Fourth Amendment rights? There's extra language in there, too: A key point seems to be that when they're following you around, they're doing so on the public streets. The argument could be made that following your car is different from a wiretap in this respect, in that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you're talking on the phone at home, but you have no such expectation when you leave the house and go out in public. Is following you via GPS really any different than tailing your car visually?

      2. Does planting the GPS device without a warrant, in and of itself, violate your Fourth Amendment rights? Maybe -- but one could argue that by planting the device, they have no more "searched" you than they would have had they driven past your house and seen the car in the driveway. They haven't done much more than a parking cop does when he puts chalk on the tire of your car. And they've haven't "seized" anything -- in fact, you now have something that you didn't have before.

      These seem like complicated issues and I'm interested to hear what the Supremes think about them.

      Some problems with that argument:

      1) Nowhere does the Fourth Amendment contain a caveat that implies our right to be free from search and seizure without warrant does not apply in public places; in fact, I would contend that ensuring the populace is able to travel freely is a big part of why that particular right is enumerated. Had the British Empire been able to track the movements of General Washington with such precision, you can bet there would be no such thing as the United States of America.

      2) Even though it is often operated on "public streets," my vehicle is still private property and subject to applicable laws; placing a GPS device on my vehicle without permission or warrant, for the purpose of conducting surveillance, is no different than searching the interior of said vehicle without permission or warrant.

      3) Can't speak for anywhere else, but I know in Missouri it is illegal for an officer to follow a vehicle for more than a proscribed distance without a warrant, else the officer can be prosecuted for harassment. So, unless the cops are pulling me over and removing/reattaching the device every few miles, or they have a warrant, this practice would be in flagrant violation of Missouri statute.

      4) I don't know about you, but I park my car in my private garage, which is an enclosed structure on private property; Meaning, when I come home and park at the end of the day, the police have effectively placed a piece of surveillance equipment in my home without my permission or a lawful warrant.

      Basically, my stance on this and all related issues is thus: If law enforcement has such a hard time obeying the Constitution by obtaining a lawful warrant, perhaps it's time we find them something more productive for them to do, or start culling the herd.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        1) Nowhere does the Fourth Amendment contain a caveat that implies our right to be free from search and seizure without warrant does not apply in public places;

        This argument is irrelevant. Of course the fourth amendment applies in public places. The question is, is it either a search or a seizure to which the fourth amendment applies?

        placing a GPS device on my vehicle without permission or warrant, for the purpose of conducting surveillance, is no different than searching the interior of said vehicle without permission or warrant.

        Oh, but it is quite different. You even implicitely admit that by the terms you choose to use to refer to the actions. "Placing" vs. "searching". I can place a penny on the hood of your car without anyone beginning to think that by doing so I've conducted a search of any kind, other than the requisite search of my own pocket to loca

        • 1) Nowhere does the Fourth Amendment contain a caveat that implies our right to be free from search and seizure without warrant does not apply in public places;

          This argument is irrelevant. Of course the fourth amendment applies in public places. The question is, is it either a search or a seizure to which the fourth amendment applies?

          placing a GPS device on my vehicle without permission or warrant, for the purpose of conducting surveillance, is no different than searching the interior of said vehicle without permission or warrant.

          Oh, but it is quite different. You even implicitely admit that by the terms you choose to use to refer to the actions. "Placing" vs. "searching". I can place a penny on the hood of your car without anyone beginning to think that by doing so I've conducted a search of any kind, other than the requisite search of my own pocket to locate a penny.

          It is hard to call an act that involves nothing other than seeing what is plainly visible a "search", and in fact, "in plain sight" is a clear exception to the requirements to get a warrant. If you've left your bag of dope laying on the coffee table and you allow a cop to enter your house, when he sees that dope he can arrest you without having conducted a search or needing a warrant. If you stand in a public place and wave about what appears to be a bag of dope, the "plain sight" exception still applies, even though it is a public place.

          And, I'll point out, your claim that placing the device is a search is a matter of opinion, and perhaps the crux of the SCOTUS case. The Circuit courts disagree with you.

          From [getlegal.com]: Using electronic devices to keep surveillance over a person may implicate the investigated individual's Fourth Amendment rights... Courts have held that this practice constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, which protects an individual's privacy rights for situations in which the person has a legitimate expectation of privacy.

          ...this practice would be in flagrant violation of Missouri statute.

          MIssouri law is not federal law and applies nowhere except Missouri. In addition, one would have to consider what the actual law says, whether it says "illegal to follow a vehicle" or "illegal to monitor the actions of a vehicle", because attaching a GPS tracker is not "following". It is "monitoring". In other words, does the law prohibit an act of harassment or an act of tracking? How can you be harassed by something you don't know is taking place? A marked police vehicle following someone is clearly a visible act, and doing so for an extended period of time could reasonably be considered harassment. If I were to tape a penny to the underside of your vehicle and you didn't know it was there, am I harassing you?

          RTFA; the incident and court in question are both in Missouri, and while federal laws supersedes state, state laws are still applicable unless contradicted.

          I refuse

  • Truth, thankfully, is that a warrant is required to do a search, if a judge has a hard time understanding this, you can always go to a jury trial.
  • Property ownership does not include the right to control what happens to that property. Is that what I am hearing this judge say? TFA does not specifically say it is or isn't a govt vehicle but I suspect it would say so if it were. What in the Hell have we become...
    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      Property ownership does not include the right to control what happens to that property. Is that what I am hearing this judge say?

      We can't answer that. Only you can tell us what you "hear".

      Can you elaborate on your first statment for us? In what way does attaching a GPS unit to a stationary vehicle parked on a public street control the property to which the tracker is attached? How does the existance of that tracker change in any way the use of the device to which it is attached (without the owner's knowledge?)

      • Property ownership should include the right to control what is and is not done to your property. It is not that difficult of a concept to grasp. No one should have the right, without a warrant, to have any interest or action upon someone else's possessions without the explicit consent of the owner. This is a basic right here.
  • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:39PM (#38578686) Homepage

    1) Court rules it legal to install GPS trackers on cars you don't own, as long as they're publicly accessible.
    2) Install 3G-connected GPS trackers on any unattended police cruisers.
    3) Incorporate current live location of police vehicles into iPhone/Android app.
    4) Profit!

    • Speaking as someone who had 4 speeding tickets last year, I'd pay for that.

  • by sampson7 (536545) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:46PM (#38578780)

    The summary of this article is just wrong. The Supreme Court has not said that the issue is unclear - it has merely agreed to hear a case about whether a specific decision made by the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia conflicts with existing Supreme Court precedent.

    To the extent that you can infer anything from the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari, it is equally likely to conclude that they took the case in order to slap down the D.C. Circuit's novel approach to the 4th Amendment.

    The existing precedent, by the way, is that we have no reasonable expectation of privacy in our cars. As a result, it is not an "unreasonable" search or seizure to attach beepers or other devices to our cars in order to monitor our movements.

    In fact, the judge in this case does an excellent job summarizing and applying the relevant case law. He points to a case from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which is the relevant circuit for St. Louis) clearly stating that putting a tracker on a car and then later retreiving it is not a constitutionally prohibited search or seizure.

    Agree or disagree on whether we have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our cars - the judge in this case acted properly. It would have violated another constitutional right - the one to a speedy trial - if he had simply delayed the issuance of his opinion until after the Supreme Court issues its (entirely discretionary) opinion.

    What a silly article.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      I'd wager they agreed to hear the case not because they think the Columbia district ruling disagrees with the constitution, but more likely because there is a disagreement between the district courts. Several have ruled it's ok, and a couple have ruled it's not. Currently it's legal in some districts and illegal in others, that makes an issue ripe for review by the Supreme court to level the playing field.

      Personally I think it should be illegal or that you should own it if you find it attached to your car.

    • by mbkennel (97636)

      "The existing precedent, by the way, is that we have no reasonable expectation of privacy in our cars."

      OK. That means it's OK to take pictures of people on public roads.

      "As a result, it is not an "unreasonable" search or seizure to attach beepers or other devices to our cars in order to monitor our movements."

      Actually it is unreasonable to do something to somebody's car. I can have no expectation of privacy when I'm walking in a shopping mall from people looking at me, but I do have a reasonable expectati

  • by PatDev (1344467) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:53PM (#38578908)

    Slashdot has so many comments boiling down to "Judges don't understand technology, and they look foolish when they rule on it anyways."

    Then we have this article and it's responses, which basically boil down to "A bunch of technologists don't understand the law and the mechanism of precedence, and they look foolish when they comment anyways."

  • Was the vehicle a government car or personal?

    I'm believe in privacy, but being supplied a company car, it is owned by the complainant they should be able to okay a tracker being attached.

    If a personal vehicle and used for transportation to and from work then a court order should be required.

    The gray area to me would be if a personal vehicle that employee is being compensated to use for work.

  • by mbkennel (97636) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:44PM (#38579534)

    Why not
    a) ask X, "Are you going to work? If so where? Who is your supervisor?"
    b) ask supervisor, "Has X been into work the last M days?"
    c) ask accounting, "Has X been getting paid?"

    the car doesn't matter.

  • I suggest putting a GPS tracker on St. Louis judge's car and posting any questionable locations he frequents for the world to see. Think he would care then?

    Oh, wait, AC above just suggested the same thing... oh well, I already typed this up.
  • An undercover policeman was installing a covert GPS tracker on the car of a suspected criminal; the suspect saw him doing it and shot him dead.

    The legal status of this is unclear here too, it hasn't either been ruled legal or illegal.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10669854 [nzherald.co.nz]

    • by jroysdon (201893)

      As I read the story, the undercover cop ran as soon as the motion-sensitive floodlights detected him. The suspect chased him down and shot him dead.

      Unnecessary force and vigilante actions of taking the law (meeting out death for what should have been perceived as auto-theft) - uhm, yeah, do not collect $200, go straight to jail.

      The proper response would have been to hold the undercover cops until law enforcement arrived.

      • by Old Wolf (56093)

        Agree that the murderer should be jailed; however the situation shouldn't even have arisen in the first place.

  • Federal Judges are IDIOTS. This one is no exception. He COULD wait for a precedent (he didn't). He could AUTHOR ONE (he's too stupid to do that). Or he could WRITE a decision that doesn't take anything into account like the asshat that he is (he did). What? US Federal Judge is an asshat? Yeah. This one also. Am I calling him a moron? NO, I think he's a total asshat chickenshit idiot.

The universe does not have laws -- it has habits, and habits can be broken.

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