Court allows agents to secretly put GPS trackers on cars – UPDATED
Posted by iusbvision on September 1, 2010
Where are all those “patriot act” privacy advocates now? Where is the elite media outrage (granted CNN reported it but this is hardly outrage)?
(CNN) — Law enforcement officers may secretly place a GPS device on a person’s car without seeking a warrant from a judge, according to a recent federal appeals court ruling in California.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Oregon in 2007 surreptitiously attached a GPS to the silver Jeep owned by Juan Pineda-Moreno, whom they suspected of growing marijuana, according to court papers.
When Pineda-Moreno was arrested and charged, one piece of evidence was the GPS data, including the longitude and latitude of where the Jeep was driven, and how long it stayed. Prosecutors asserted the Jeep had been driven several times to remote rural locations where agents discovered marijuana being grown, court documents show.
Pineda-Moreno eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to grow marijuana, and is serving a 51-month sentence, according to his lawyer.
But he appealed on the grounds that sneaking onto a person’s driveway and secretly tracking their car violates a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy.
“They went onto the property several times in the middle of the night without his knowledge and without his permission,” said his lawyer, Harrison Latto.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal twice — in January of this year by a three-judge panel, and then again by the full court earlier this month. The judges who affirmed Pineda-Moreno’s conviction did so without comment.
Latto says the Ninth Circuit decision means law enforcement can place trackers on cars, without seeking a court’s permission, in the nine western states the California-based circuit covers.
The ruling likely won’t be the end of the matter. A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., arrived at a different conclusion in similar case, saying officers who attached a GPS to the car of a suspected drug dealer should have sought a warrant.
Experts say the issue could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Notice that it is the 9th Circuit – that is the circuit with the most strident leftists – which says that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy about where you go day after day; essentially you can be tracked all the time and the Founders who wrote the Constitution think that is reasonable.
The DC Court – which is the most stridently conservative – says that you do have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
I would say that this is another case of judges not caring what the limits of government are, what the limits of their office is, and what is reasonable; rather they are more interested in what they can get away with to expand government power.
George Orwell call your office.
Editor Emeritus Jarrod Brigham Comments:
The 9th circuit errors when stating that you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy on your own property.
This is the worst part of the opinion:
“In order to establish a reasonable expectation of privacy in [his] driveway, [Pineda-Moreno] must support that expectation by detailing the special features of the driveway itself (i.e. enclosures, barriers, lack of visibility from the street) or the nature of activities performed upon it.” Maisanov. Welcher, 940 F.2d 499, 503 (9th Cir. 1991).
Pineda-Moreno offers no such evidence. To the contrary, the driveway had no gate, no “No Trespassing” signs, and no features to prevent someone standing in the street from seeing the entire driveway. Additionally, one of the investigating agents testified that “an individual going up to the house to deliver the newspaper or to visit someone would have to go through the driveway to get to the house.” If a neighborhood child had walked up Pineda-Moreno’s driveway and crawled under his Jeep to retrieve a lost ball or runaway cat, Pineda-Moreno would have no grounds to complain. Thus, because Pineda-Moreno did not take steps to exclude passersby from his driveway, he cannot claim a reasonable expectation of privacy in it, regardless of whether a portion of it was located within the curtilage of his home.
You should not have to put up a “No Tresspassing” sign in order to keep people off your property. Is the 9th circuit asking us to put a fence around every house in America?
Even if they erroneously ruled that the driveway is not a private area, the car itself should be a private area. If the man would have left his front door open, would that be an invitation for someone to enter his house? No.
The police should not have been able to put a tracking device on a suspect’s car whether it is in the driveway or in the parking lot at Wal-mart. This court’s ruling basically said it is OK for me as citizen x to put tracking devices on all the police cars if they are parked on a city lot.
Indeed. If you have no expectation of privacy than citizens should be able to sneak a GPS on a police (or the mayors car, or a senator’s car, or a judges car) car any time they wish. Of course with all those lights and all the one with no expectation of privacy is the police. By the courts “reasoning” citizens could also put a GPS on a police officers personal vehicle and track them to where they live. This is the problem when politicians nominate judges who are not brilliant legal minds, but rather make rulings based on personal and political whims.