Friday, November 11, 2011

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on GPS Tracking Case

This week the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case which asks whether the police need to obtain a warrant to place a GPS tracking device on a suspect's vehicle.  We first reported on this case on August 6, 2010.  In 2005, Washington police placed a GPS tracking device on a vehicle owned by Antoine Jones, a Washington nightclub owner.  The used the GPS tracking device for a month and tied him to a drug stash house.  He was eventually arrested and convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.  The GPS tracking device was just one facet of the investigation.  The government alleged that Jones ran a drug trafficking operation out of his nightclub.  The case involved surveillance of Jones and a wiretap of Jones' cell phone.  Jones was sentenced to life in prison.  His conviction was overturned by the Federal Court of Appeals who found that the placing of the GPS tracking device on his vehicle without a warrant violated his 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  The government appealed the ruling arguing that the police have the right to place GPS tracking devices on suspect's vehicles without a warrant.  

During oral arguments this week, most of the justices seemed skeptical of the government's position.  The questioned the government's attorney and seemed leery of the government's position.

The case is United States v. Jones, 10-1259.

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