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Supreme Court Rules Warrants Needed for GPS Monitoring 354

gambit3 writes "The Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the case of Washington, D.C. nightclub owner Antoine Jones, saying police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects. A federal appeals court in Washington overturned his drug conspiracy conviction because police did not have a warrant when they installed a GPS device on his vehicle and then tracked his movements for a month."
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Supreme Court Rules Warrants Needed for GPS Monitoring

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  • yeah (Score:1, Interesting)

    by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @02:07PM (#38794267)
    but just because he was illegally tracked doesn't mean he wasn't still guilty. The police should be disciplined, the criminal shouldn't be let off the hook.
  • Warrants (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mindcandy ( 1252124 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @02:26PM (#38794687)
    Depends on the judge (I do a lot of subpoena work, on boths sides).

    I have seen some that are "rubber stamped" with only a vague description of what they're after (eg: "computer equipment") .. I have seen some where the judge says "Apartment #3 is not sufficient to identify the residence" and "Computer equipment does not sufficiently identify the property sought" and the police had to go back and get permission (from the landlord) to take a picture of the door and go back to the judge along with serial numbers and such of the devices.

    The judge in the 2nd case is doing it right .. because what if the police work is sloppy and the stolen computer is serial number AB123456 and you have a computer that's DE78910 but the same exact model .. guess which defendant is getting their stuff back.
  • Re:Good. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @02:29PM (#38794751)
    We need more accountability for cops. A cop has the potential to do a lot more harm than a crooked member of congress. Your elected official can't burst into your house with guns drawn. Your neighborhood cop can.

    Preferably, either directly elected cops or an elected board that oversees the police departments. Because in most places the only thing checking your neighborhood cop is.... another cop. Imagine if we had the same thing with politicians with no outside checks.
  • Re:yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @02:36PM (#38794915) Journal

    Unfortunately, the exclusionary rule doesn't punish the cop who broke the law. What we need is a doctrine that says any search, arrest, detention, etc that oversteps legal authority is a crime just as if any non-police officer had done it. Then it's just a matter of prosecuting police misconduct as assault, breaking and entering, etc. You can keep the evidence, but the person who broke the law to get it is going to jail. This is the exact same way evidence is treated if it's collected illegaly by a non-cop, btw.

    Of course, prosecutors are going to be poorly-disposed towards prosecuting the cops they work with daily. So we'd need an independent meta-justice system to keep tabs on that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @02:37PM (#38794919)

    From Volokh: [http://volokh.com/2012/01/23/what-jones-does-not-hold/]

    What Jones Does Not Hold

    Orin Kerr January 23, 2012 12:50 pm

    A lot of the early press reports on United States v. Jones are reporting that the Supreme Court held that the government needs a warrant to install a GPS device. But that’s not correct, actually. The Court merely held that the installation of the GPS was a Fourth Amendment “search.” The Court declined to reach when the installation of the device is reasonable or unreasonable. As the opinion explains on page 12 of the slip opinion:

            The Government argues in the alternative that even if the attachment and use of the device was a search, it was reasonable—and thus lawful—under the Fourth Amendment because “officers had reasonable suspicion, and in-deed probable cause, to believe that [Jones] was a leader in a large-scale cocaine distribution conspiracy.” Brief for United States 50–51. We have no occasion to consider this argument. The Government did not raise it below, and the D. C. Circuit therefore did not address it. See 625 F. 3d, at 767 (Ginsburg, Tatel, and Griffith, JJ., concurring in denial of rehearing en banc). We consider the argument forfeited. See Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine, 537 U. S. 51, 56, n. 4 (2002).

    So we actually don’t yet know if a warrant is required to install a GPS device; we just know that the installation of the device is a Fourth Amendment “search.”

  • Re:Ruling..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @02:38PM (#38794929) Journal
    Even crazier -- it was a fucking unanimous decision. Not one of them disagreed with the fundamentals.
  • Re:Good. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @03:07PM (#38795455)

    If a cop gets in trouble for that stuff, it seems the standard 'punishment' is two weeks suspension with pay.
    I don't know how that's a punishment since most people would consider it a 2 weeks paid vacation.

  • by glebovitz ( 202712 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @03:59PM (#38796215) Journal

    I am not surprised by the ruling and agree with the decision. I imaged the discussion to focus on public versus private information. Police do not need a warrant to "tail" a suspect as they move through public streets. However, they need a warrant to follow the suspect into private property as their entrance would be trespassing.

    It is good to know that the court viewed the attachment of the device to the vehicle as trespassing. While the court did not explicitly say that a warrant is required in all cases, it is clear the the trespassing issue has implications in both long term and short term use of implantable or attachable technology for surveillance.

  • Re:Ruling..... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:15PM (#38796447)

    I've been very vocal about gun rights lately, but I'd add two to the count on Constitutional stuff. SCOTUS ruled that it is an individual right to own a gun in your home and that that right applies to the states (and override their abilities to revoke it). We're halfway there on that one; now we just need to get to the bear part of the 2nd amendment.

  • Re:Good. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by qbast ( 1265706 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:16PM (#38796457)

    You mean, if a cop drives over a speed limit, everyone who was ever arrested by him, should be immediately exonerated, right?

    Actually it's the stupidest thing about US legal system, ever, that reliable, verifiable evidence can be thrown out for any reason.

    No, it is not. It is the single most important rule that makes police respect the law at least sometimes.

    Justice must operate on facts, not fiction.

    But it does not operate on facts. It operates on two sides (prosecution and defence) playing tug of war. Facts help a little, but good rhetoric helps even more. This is adversarial system, which means that even if defence attorney knows for a *fact* that his client is guilty, he is required to try and get him exoneration or good deal.

    Punish the people who break the law, punish cops who break the law more severely because they are given more trust, but keep the evidence.

    And here you have the reason for 'tainted evidence' rule - cops are not punished more severely. They are punished very lightly or not at all.

    Maybe some kind soul will want to sacrifice his career and years of his life to bring something really nasty to justice -- who are we to keep him from doing so? Certainly more harm is done by legalized "war on terror" crap.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner