Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Government appeals GPS case to Third Circuit; groups file amicus arguing that warrant is required

As frequent readers of this blog have become well-aware, an interesting fight occurring throughout American courtrooms concerns the interpretation of the Supreme Court's Jones decision and the application of the good faith doctrine to that opinion. Some patterns have appeared, but there are many exceptions to each of them.

One decision, United States v. Katzin, followed a pattern. Typically, if the jurisdiction of the search did not have binding precedent, the good faith exception does not save the search, and the evidence is suppressed. In Katzin (No. 11-226 (E.D. Pa. 2012)), the district court found that the warrantless use of a GPS tracking device violated the Fourth Amendment and cannot be excused under the good faith doctrine. The jurisdiction had no binding authority on the issue and as the installation occurred four months after Maynard, there was a circuit split.

The government has appealed the case, suggesting to the Third Circuit that no search warrant was needed because the Supreme Court did not specifically decide if a warrant is needed to monitor a person's movements via GPS. Further, they suggest that good faith saves the evidence.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) have filed an amicus brief, arguing that Jones requires a warrant for installation of and monitoring with a GPS device and that the good faith doctrine only saves evidence when binding precedent existed at the time of the installation.


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