Judge OKs text message use in drug case

By fnord · Nov 22, 2008 · Updated Mar 9, 2012 · ·
  1. fnord
    Judge OKs text message use in drug case

    What: A man accused of involvement in a Washington, D.C., cocaine-distribution ring objects to his text messages being handed over to police.
    When: U.S. District Judge ruled on Aug. 10.
    Outcome: Huvelle lets text messages be used as evidence.
    What happened, according to court documents:

    Broadband companies tend not to save copies of people's e-mail. That means snoopy divorce lawyers and curious FBI agents who show up with a subpoena or search warrant generally will be out of luck.

    But text messages sent on one's cell phone are a different story, as one alleged drug dealer in the Washington, D.C.-area learned firsthand.

    On Oct. 24, 2005, federal police raided a home on Potomac Drive in Fort Washington, Md.--just south of the Washington Beltway. They allegedly seized about 213 pounds of cocaine and about 6.5 pounds of crack cocaine. Antoine Jones and four other men were caught up in the raid. The raid represented the culmination of an extensive amount of surveillance that the FBI and other federal police had conducted--both physical and electronic.

    Part of the electronic surveillance was done by obtaining logs from two unnamed wireless providers. According to federal authorities, the logs contained archived text messages that were sent by Jones and alleged co-conspirator Lawrence Maynard.

    In the words of the court: "On Aug. 10, 2005, and again on Aug. 18, 2005, Magistrate Judge Alan Kay issued search warrants to two electronic communication service providers for stored text messages that had been transmitted over cellular telephones used by Jones and Maynard."

    Jones, who is awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and use of a communication facility to traffic in drugs, filed a brief claiming that the search warrants violated the federal Wiretap Act.
    Huvelle ruled on Aug. 10 that the search warrants were permissible "because the Wiretap Act does not apply to the government's acquisition of text messages held in storage at electronic communication service providers."

    Translation: The Wiretap Act only applies to live intercepts, not archived e-mail or SMS messages. In general, a lower legal standard applies to archived messages. (As an aside, the government claims that technology to capture the contents of text messages had "only become available to law enforcement within recent weeks.")

    Jones also was wiretapped, which Huvelle concluded was done in compliance with relevant federal law.
    In addition, his movements were monitored through a GPS tracking device placed on his Jeep Cherokee. While the feds obtained a court order for the GPS tracker, they kept it on Jones' truck after the order expired, claiming that no court approval was necessary anyway. ("Even in the complete absence of a court order," it is legal, the U.S. Justice Department claims.)

    This is not a new debate. A CNET News.com article published in January 2005 shows that courts are divided about whether a court order is required to install GPS trackers. Huvelle split the difference, saying that no court approval was necessary when the Jeep Cherokee was on a public road.

    Excerpt from Huvelle's opinion:
    Jones' argument that the text message affidavits lacked probable cause also misses the mark. The task of an issuing magistrate, when assessing probable cause for search warrants is simply to make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the "veracity" and "basis of knowledge" of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place...The court easily concludes that the information contained in Special Agent Yanta's supporting affidavits was sufficient to establish probable cause for the text message warrants.

    The 29-page Aug. 10 affidavit, which served as the foundation upon which subsequent affidavits submitted in support of wiretap and search warrant applications were based, references information provided by three confidential sources who had firsthand knowledge of Jones' illicit activity...The affidavit further provides the basis for investigators' belief that Jones and Maynard were using text messaging in an attempt to conceal their alleged narcotics trafficking activities.

    First, analysis of pen register data indicated that several weeks prior to Aug. 10, 2005, the target cellular telephones showed an increase in text messaging from 50 percent of all activations to 90 percent. And second, the technology to capture the contents of text messages had "only become available to law enforcement within recent weeks."


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  1. discodave
    Horiz, my northern neighbour. For us in the UK it is worse, broadband providers DO save our internet e-mails and web sites surfed and the government can snoop on them pretty much at will for whatever reason they want. Even job centres and the school inspector are allowed to spy on anyone in the UK, anywhere (the reasons in the RIP act are so broad and vague it is possible to justify spying on anyone and everyone at once). They almost certainly watch what we do on this site, and I really don't know why they don't take action over it. Maybe they do with Mr Bigs and simply don't mention where their info came from.
  2. Horiz
    Jesus jumped up Christ. I thought only the USA had such crazy laws. This is utter madness! (sparta kind)

    SWIM will never be ordering anything over the internet again (especially grow equipment) using his home PC or real name. Pre-paid credit cards and delivered to a safe-house only. Paranoia is completely justified. :mad:
  3. discjunkie313
    The 4th amendment dissapeared a long time ago..when it became sober checkpoints became legal michigan Michigan V sitz..now police dont even need a reason to stop you just a hunch your drunk..as far informations being private forget about it..ever since 911..the patriot act guarentees that any wire taps on phones emails any information routs whatsoever can be confiscated in case your a terrorist thanks bush..now they using texts for court, good grief. how do they know someone else wasnt typing that info, this speculation crap is recidulous, whatever happened to concrete evidence or prood beyond a reasonable doubt, the fact that is information first of all is personal and should require a warrant to get, and second of all, is reasonably douted for it's indeirect observation( falling not under the exception to hearsay rule) should be inadmissable, especially if that's the prosecutions foundation for bringing the charges. were only 1 step away from brain implant tracking devices, the constitution that written to protect 1's natural born freedome has been eroded with subtitutions and inferences that it has been a completely different document that is contrary to the original 1 the framers of the constituion intended to promote..enough rambleing i'm pissed off-DJ out
  4. AntiAimer
    Better not lend your cell phone out, never know what you might be accused of doing.

    Note to self, never text msg, the old fashion way has worked fine.
  5. discjunkie313
    Lol, nice 1 Swiaimer..swidj knows that the possibility of someone else using your phone to text som1 is slim to none, but it is still a possibility..thats the reasonable doubt, no1 can say for sure it was you typing those messages and it should be inadmissable for those reasons..unless som1 directly observed the person typing the messages and called the cops and 2 minutes later he was arrested, then the messages would be within a reasonable time frame, corroberated by direct observation, then and only then would they be admissable in a court of law..swidj has studied a bit, lol mostly to represent hiself, and knows that 3rd party evidence is hearsay.-DJ
  6. fnord
    Shouldent this make cell phones even more safe? if your phones tapped they will have a recording of your voice and there's no way to scam your way out of that in court,at least this way you can say you lost your phone,you let some random person use it on the buss,your roomates use it,your friends use it. hell, just giuve htem a list of like 50 differnet friends and desrictionms of like 50 more people that ight have used you phone at partys.
  7. discjunkie313
    very good point swif, and any lawyer that doesnt play golf with the D.A..(court appointed) should be able to raise this issue and have the text messages and other indirect evidence excluded on a motion to quash..swidj thinks this news will definitely spark the attention of the aclu(american civil libertys union)..and end up going to the supreme court..where hopefully it's gets overturned. this pattern of injustice have slowly but surely degraded our rights to the point, law enforcement have been written a blank check to infringe on our freedoms at will. they live by the motto been better safe than sorry, by this logic, since 1/3 of people who leave prison return within 5 years, why not keep them in(IN CASE THEY COMMIT ANOTHER CRIME RIGHT) it's plain rediculous, same as allowing these text message ,although not as extreme, they are allowing this evidence on the premise these might have been him-DJ
  8. Balzafire
    GPS tracking without a warrant

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20850&stc=1&d=1308515581[/imgl]WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- The Obama administration, in a case firmly rooted in the 21st century, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that police do not need a warrant to use the Global Positioning System to track the movements of suspects.

    The U.S. Justice Department argues a warrant is not needed even if future "scientific enhancements" or an aggregation of devices is used.

    GPS provides the location of a device and the timing of its movements anywhere on the globe, even in bad weather, as long as the device is able to fix on four or more GPS satellites in orbits maintained by the U.S. government.

    The system has many uses in the private sector, such as the determining the locations of hikers or campers and the flights of commercial airlines or routes of ships. Its military uses for warplanes, warships and missiles are obvious.

    Its use among law enforcement is widespread, the administration says.

    But can law enforcement use the technology without a warrant in a constitutional way?

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed briefs in the GPS case in the lower courts, says it can't. GPS technology is just too "invasive" to be used without a warrant.

    "To explain why GPS tracking is invasive, particularly over long stretches of time," the ACLU said, "it's hard to do better than these words from a Washington, D.C., federal appeals court decision:

    "'A person who knows all of another's travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups -- and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.'"

    In 2004, a joint Safe Streets Task Force of the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department set out to learn the "facts" about Antoine Jones, who owned and operated a nightclub in the District of Columbia and was suspected of narcotics violations.

    Agents used a variety of techniques designed to link Jones to his alleged co-conspirators and to suspected stash locations for illegal drugs. In addition, agents obtained a warrant from a federal judge in Washington authorizing them to secretly install and monitor a GPS tracking device on Jones' Jeep Grand Cherokee -- as long as it was installed within 10 days and only within the District of Columbia.

    But the agents did not install the device until 11 days after the warrant was issued, and while the Jeep was parked in a public parking lot in Maryland, not the district.

    Despite this legal problem, the battery-powered GPS device worked. It communicated with satellites to establish the Jeep's location, accurate within 50 to 100 feet. It generated data only when the Jeep was moving -- the device was in "sleeping" mode when the vehicle was stationary to conserve battery power.

    Court records said the device enabled agents to track the Jeep to the vicinity of a suspected drug stash house in Fort Washington, Md., which confirmed other evidence of Jones driving his vehicle to and from that location.

    Investigators heard on intercepted calls that Jones was expecting a sizable shipment of cocaine in late October 2005, court records said, and executed search warrants at various locations.

    They recovered nearly $70,000 from Jones' Jeep, and recovered wholesale quantities of cocaine, thousands of dollars in cash, firearms, digital scales and other drug-packaging paraphernalia from his suspected customers.

    At the stash house in Fort Washington, agents recovered approximately 97 kilograms of powder cocaine, almost one kilogram of crack cocaine, approximately $850,000 in cash and various items used to process and package narcotics, court records said.

    Jones was indicted for allegedly conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base, and 29 counts of using a communications facility to facilitate a drug-trafficking offense.

    Before trial, Jones' lawyers moved to suppress the data from the GPS tracking device. A federal judge ruled that any information gleaned while the Jeep was on public roads was admissible, but any data obtained while the Jeep was in Jones' garage was not.

    The jury acquitted Jones of some charges and was unable to reach a verdict on others.

    Then a new federal grand jury, in a superseding indictment, charged Jones with a single count of conspiracy to distribute and possess 5 kilograms of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base.

    After a second trial in which prosecutors used GPS information obtained while the Jeep was moving, Jones was convicted of the sole count. A judge sentenced him to life in prison and ordered him to forfeit $1 millon in proceeds from drug trafficking.

    But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, sometimes called the second most important court in the United States, reversed the conviction.

    An appeals court panel conceded that the Supreme Court said in 1983's U.S. vs. Knotts when police placed a beeper inside a container of chemicals in order to track it, it was not a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment because someone "traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another."

    The Fourth Amendment says, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    But the courts have also said the Fourth Amendment's protections extend only to places where there is a "reasonable expectation of privacy" -- not in places such as airports, for example, where passengers are searched before boarding an airplane.

    The Washington appeals court said Knotts was not the controlling precedent, because officers in that case monitored a "discrete journey" of 100 miles, where in the Jones case police were conducting monitoring of a vehicle over several weeks.

    The Knotts ruling also "reserved" -- did not answer -- whether a warrant would be required before police could use electronic devices as part of a "dragnet-type law enforcement," such as "24-four hour surveillance."

    The appeals court also conceded that two other U.S. courts of appeal in different circuits have ruled that prolonged GPS monitoring without a warrant did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

    The appeals court said Jones has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public movements of his Jeep over the course of a month, because he had not exposed the "totality" of those movements to the public -- "the whole of a person's movements over the course of a month is not actually exposed to the public because the likelihood a stranger would observe all those movements is essentially nil."

    The appeals court also concluded that a reasonable person "does not expect anyone to monitor and retain a record of every time he drives his car, rather, he expects each of those movements to remain disconnected and anonymous."

    Moreover, seven states have enacted laws requiring the government to obtain a warrant before using GPS technology, the appeals court said.

    The appeals court also rejected the government's argument that the "automobile exception" to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement -- generally used in traffic stops -- saying "the automobile exception permits the police to search a car without a warrant if they have reason to believe it contains contraband; the exception does not authorize them to install a tracking device on a car without the approval of a neutral magistrate."

    After the panel's ruling, the administration asked the full appeals court to hear the case, but was rejected.

    The Obama administration then asked the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

    After pointing out the conflict in rulings by several appeals courts, the administration's petition says: "Prompt resolution of this conflict is critically important to law enforcement efforts throughout the United States. The court of appeals' decision seriously impedes the government's use of GPS devices at the beginning stages of an investigation when officers are gathering evidence to establish probable cause and provides no guidance on the circumstances under which officers must obtain a warrant before placing a GPS device on a vehicle."

    The petition warns the confusion could spread, tacitly acknowledging the Washington appeals court frequently sets the tone for other appeals courts throughout the country.

    "Given the potential application of the court of appeals' 'aggregation' theory to other, non-GPS forms of surveillance, this (Supreme) Court's intervention is also necessary to preserve the government's ability to collect public information during criminal investigations without fear that the evidence will later be suppressed because the investigation revealed 'too much' about a person's private life."

    The petition added: "This (Supreme) Court has held (in Knotts) that a 'search' within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment occurs only where a 'legitimate expectation of privacy' has been invaded by government action. ... As a result, 'what someone 'knowingly exposes to the public is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection.'"

    The Supreme Court should decide soon whether to grant the government's petition for review. The justices are scheduled to consider it in conference Thursday.

    June 19, 2011
  9. Terrapinzflyer
    Busted! Two New Fed GPS Trackers Found on SUV

    [IMGL="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=23047&stc=1&d=1320853537[/IMGL]As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear oral arguments in a case Tuesday that could determine if authorities can track U.S. citizens with GPS vehicle trackers without a warrant, a young man in California has come forward to Wired to reveal that he found not one but two different devices on his vehicle recently.

    The 25-year-old resident of San Jose, California, says he found the first one about three weeks ago on his Volvo SUV while visiting his mother in Modesto, about 80 miles northeast of San Jose. After contacting Wired and allowing a photographer to snap pictures of the device, it was swapped out and replaced with a second tracking device. A witness also reported seeing a strange man looking beneath the vehicle of the young man’s girlfriend while her car was parked at work, suggesting that a tracking device may have been retrieved from her car.

    Then things got really weird when police showed up during a Wired interview with the man.

    The young man, who asked to be identified only as Greg, is one among an increasing number of U.S. citizens who are finding themselves tracked with the high-tech devices.

    [IMGR="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=23048&stc=1&d=1320853537[/IMGR]The Justice Department has said that law enforcement agents employ GPS as a crime-fighting tool with “great frequency,” and GPS retailers have told Wired that they’ve sold thousands of the devices to the feds.

    But little is known about how or how often law enforcement agents use them. And without a clear ruling requiring agents to obtain a “probable cause” warrant to use the devices, it leaves citizens who may have only a distant connection to a crime or no connection at all vulnerable to the whimsy of agents who are fishing for a case.

    The invasive technology, for example, allows police, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies to engage in covert round-the-clock surveillance over an extended period of time, collecting vast amounts of information about anyone who drives the vehicle that is being tracked.

    “A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts,” wrote U.S. Appeals Court Judge Douglas Ginsburg in a recent ruling that the Supreme Court will be examining this week to determine if warrants should be required for use with trackers.

    Greg says he discovered the first tracker on his vehicle after noticing what looked like a cell phone antenna inside a hole on his back bumper where a cable is stored for towing a trailer. The device, the size of a mobile phone, was not attached to a battery pack, suggesting the battery was embedded in its casing.

    A week later when he was back in San Jose, he checked the device, and it appeared to have been repositioned slightly on the vehicle to make it less visible. It was placed on the underside of the car in the wheel well that holds a spare tire.

    Greg, a Hispanic American who lives in San Jose at the home of his girlfriend’s parents, contacted Wired after reading a story published last year about an Arab-American citizen named Yasir Afifi who found a tracking device on his car. Greg wanted to know what he should do with the device.

    Afifi believed he was being tracked by authorities for six months before a mechanic discovered the device on his car when he took it into a garage for an oil change. He apparently came under surveillance after the FBI received a vague tip from someone who said Afifi might be a threat to national security. Afifi has filed a suit against the government, asserting that authorities violated his civil liberties by placing the device on his vehicle without a warrant and without suspicion of a crime. His attorney, Zahra Billoo, told Wired this week that she’s requested a stay in her client’s case, pending a ruling by the Supreme Court in the GPS tracking case now before it.

    [IMGL="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=23049&stc=1&d=1320853537[/IMGL]Greg’s surveillance appears to involve different circumstances. It most likely involves a criminal drug investigation centered around his cousin, a Mexican citizen who fled across the border to that country a year ago and may have been involved in the drug trade as a dealer.

    “He took off. I think he was fleeing. I think he committed a crime,” Greg told Wired.com, asserting that he himself is not involved in drugs.

    Greg says he bought the SUV from his cousin in June, paying cash for it to a family member. He examined the car at the time and found no tracking device on it. A month later, he drove his cousin’s wife to Tijuana. Greg says he remained in Mexico a couple of days before returning to the U.S.

    It’s possible the surveillance began shortly after his return, but Greg discovered the device only about three weeks ago during his visit to Modesto. The device was slipped into a sleeve that contained small magnets to affix it to the car.

    On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Wired photographer Jon Snyder went to San Jose to photograph the device. The next day, two males and one female appeared suddenly at the business where Greg’s girlfriend works, driving a Crown Victoria with tinted windows. A witness reported to Greg that one of the men jumped out of the car, bent under the front of the girlfriend’s car for a few seconds, then jumped back into the Crown Victoria and drove off. Wired was unable to confirm the story.

    [IMGR="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=23050&stc=1&d=1320853547[/IMGR]The following day, Greg noticed that the GPS tracker on his own car had been replaced with a different tracker, this one encased in a clam shell cover attached to a large round magnet to hold the device to the car. The device was attached to a 3.6 VDC Lithium Polymer rechargeable battery.

    There was no writing on the tracker to identify its maker, but a label on the battery indicated that it’s sold by a small firm in Farmingdale, New York, called Revanche. A notice on a government web site last June indicates that it was seeking 500 of the batteries and 250 battery chargers for the Drug Enforcement Administration. A separate notice on the same site in 2008 refers to a contract for what appears to be a similar Revanche battery. The notice indicates the batteries work with GPS devices made by Nextel and Sendum.

    A spokeswoman with the DEA’s office in San Francisco, however, declined to say if the device on Greg’s vehicle was theirs.

    “We cannot comment on our means or methods that we use, so I cannot provide you with any additional information,” said DEA spokeswoman Casey McEnry.

    The second device on Greg’s vehicle appears to be a Sendum PT200 GPS tracker with the factory battery swapped out and replaced with the Revanche battery. The Sendum GPS tracker is marketed to private investigators, law enforcement and transportation security managers and sells for about $430 without the battery. With the factory battery “it will last 7-15 days reporting every hour in a good cellular coverage zone,” according to marketing literature describing it, and it uses CDMA cellular communications and gpsOne location services to determine its location.

    When this reporter drove down to meet Greg and photograph the second tracker with photographer Snyder, three police cars appeared at the location that had been pre-arranged with Greg, at various points driving directly behind me without making any verbal contact before leaving.

    After moving the photo shoot to a Rotten Robbie gas station a mile away from the first location, another police car showed up. In this case, the officer entered the station smiling at me and turned his car around to face the direction of Greg’s car, a couple hundred yards away. He remained there while the device was photographed. A passenger in the police car, dressed in civilian clothes, stepped out of the vehicle to fill a gas container, then the two left shortly before the photo shoot was completed.

    The Obama administration will be defending the warrantless use of such trackers in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning. The administration, which is attempting to overturn a lower court ruling that threw out a drug dealer’s conviction over the warrantless use of a tracker, argues that citizens have no expectation of privacy when it comes to their movements in public so officers don’t need to get a warrant to use such devices.

    It’s unclear if authorities obtained a warrant to track Greg’s vehicle. While Greg says he’s committed no crimes and has nothing to hide, the not-so-stealthy police maneuver at his girlfriend’s place of employment makes it look to others like she’s involved in something nefarious, he says. That concerns him.

    It concerns attorney Billoo as well.

    “For a lot of us, it’s like, Well I’m not selling cocaine, so let them put a tracking device on the car of [a suspect] who is selling cocaine,” Billoo says. “And I’m not a terrorist, so let them put the device on someone [suspected of being] a terrorist. But it shouldn’t be unchecked authority on the part of police officers. If law enforcement doesn’t care to have their authority checked, then we’re in a lot of trouble.”

    By Kim Zetter
    November 8, 2011


    Photo Captions:
    1)The second of two GPS trackers found recently on the vehicle of a young man in California.
    Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com

    2)The first GPS tracker found was slipped into a fabric sleeve, containing magnets, and placed on the underside of the vehicle in the wheel well of the spare tire.
    Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com

    3)The first GPS tracker, out of its sleeve. Photo courtesy of Greg.

    4)Second GPS tracker with clam shell casing and Lithium Polymer battery.
    Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com
  10. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Busted! Two New Fed GPS Trackers Found on SUV

    High court troubled by warrantless GPS tracking (Update)

    The US Supreme Court delved Tuesday into the issue of privacy amid 21st century technology, hearing arguments on whether police can use a GPS device attached to a vehicle to track a suspect without a search warrant.

    The Supreme Court invoked visions of an all-seeing Big Brother and satellites watching us from above. Then things got personal Tuesday when the justices were told police could slap GPS devices on their cars and track their movements, without asking a judge for advance approval.

    The occasion for all the talk about intrusive police actions was a hearing in a case about whether the police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects. The outcome could have implications for other high-tech surveillance methods as well.

    The justices expressed deep reservations about warrantless GPS tracking. But there also was no clear view about how or whether to regulate police use of the devices.

    The justices were taken aback when the lawyer representing the government said police officers could install GPS devices on the justices' cars and track their movements without a warrant. To get a warrant, investigators need to convince a judge that there is reason to believe a suspect is involved in criminal activity.

    "So your answer is yes, you could tomorrow decide that you put a GPS device on every one of our cars, follow us for a month; no problem under the Constitution?" Chief Justice John Roberts said.

    Not only that, government lawyer Michael Dreeben replied, but FBI agents wouldn't need a warrant either if they wanted to rummage through the justices' trash, use a low-tech beeper to track them or tail them around-the-clock with a team of agents. Dreeben said the court has previously ruled that people have no reasonable expectation of privacy in those circumstances.

    Justice Samuel Alito captured the essence of the court's concern when he said, "With computers around, it's now so simple to amass an enormous amount of information. How do we deal with this? Just say nothing has changed?"

    Justice Stephen Breyer alluded to George Orwell's novel "1984" when he said surveillance in the past depended on human beings and their sometimes flawed memories. But computers don't have that problem, he said.

    "The question that I think people are driving at, at least as I understand it and certainly share the concern, is that if you win this case then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States," Breyer said.

    Roberts drew a comparison with artwork to explain his perception of the power of GPS surveillance. "You're talking about the difference between seeing a little tile and a mosaic," Roberts said.

    But Dreeben said it would be better for lawmakers rather than judges to set limits. Dreeben said the concerns expressed Tuesday were similar to those in the earlier high court case. Thirty years ago, Dreeben said, "Beeper technology seemed extraordinarily advanced."

    The court shouldn't make special rules for GPS devices just because they allow the police to be more efficient in capturing and analyzing data, Dreeben said.
    GPS devices are especially useful in early stages of an investigation, when they can eliminate the use of time-consuming stakeouts as officers seek to gather evidence, he said.

    The issue arose after the federal appeals court in Washington threw out the drug conspiracy conviction of nightclub owner Antoine Jones. FBI agents and local police did not have a valid search warrant when they installed a GPS device on Jones' car and collected travel information for a month.

    The GPS device helped authorities link Jones to a suburban house used to stash money and drugs. He was sentenced to life in prison before the appeals court overturned the conviction. The appellate judges said the authorities should have had a warrant and pointed to the length of the surveillance as a factor in their decision.

    For all the unease the justices voiced in questions to Dreeben, they seemed equally torn in questions to Stephen Leckar, Jones' lawyer, about how to impose limits on the police.
    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked whether the use of video surveillance cameras is so different from getting information from a GPS device on a car. In London, Justice Elena Kagan noted, cameras are everywhere.

    "It's pretty scary," Leckar said.

    Justice Antonin Scalia responded with evident sarcasm. "Well, it must be unconstitutional if it's scary," Scalia said.

    More gently, Breyer pointed out that English authorities have used video footage to prevent terrorist attacks.

    The point of the questioning was to get Leckar to offer a principled way to draw a line that would still allow police to do their jobs without compromising people's rights.

    Leckar said perhaps police could use the GPS device to follow someone for one day or one trip, without first getting a warrant. But that didn't appear to satisfy much of the court, either.

    An unusual array of interest groups backs Jones, including the Gun Owners of America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Civil Liberties Union and an association of truck drivers. The groups say GPS technology is much more powerful than the beeper technology police once employed in surveillance.

    Other appeals courts have ruled that search warrants aren't necessary for GPS tracking.
    The justices are considering two related issues, whether a warrant is needed before installing the device or using the GPS technology to track a vehicle. They could determine that the installation requires a warrant, leaving the knottier issues relating to tracking to another day.

    A decision should come by spring.

    The case is U.S. v. Jones, 10-1259.

    November 8, 2011
    Associated Press

  11. Terrapinzflyer
    Supreme Court: Warrants needed in GPS tracking

    The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that police must obtain a search warrant before using a GPS device to track criminal suspects. But the justices left for another day larger questions about how technology has altered a person’s expectation of privacy.

    Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the government needed a valid warrant before attaching a GPS device to the Jeep used by D.C. drug kingpin Antoine Jones, who was convicted in part because police tracked his movements on public roads for 28 days.

    “We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search’ ” under the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, Scalia wrote.

    All justices agreed with the outcome of the case, which affirmed a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that said evidence of Jones’ s frequent trips to a stash house where drugs and nearly $1 million in cash were found must be thrown out.

    The police had obtained a warrant for GPS surveillance of Jones, but it expired before they attached the device to his car.

    But there was a significant split on the court about whether Monday’s decision went far enough.

    Scalia’s majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, said the electronic surveillance, if achieved without having to physically trespass on Jones’s property, may have been “an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.”

    But Scalia added: “The present case does not require us to answer that question.”

    It was that question — society’s expectation of privacy in a modern world — that had animated the court’s consideration of the case. In an intense hour-long oral argument last November, the Big Brother of George Orwell’s novel “1984” was referenced six times.

    The justices pondered a world in which satellites can zero in on an individual’s house, cameras can record the faces at a crowded intersection and individuals can instantly announce their every movement to the world on Facebook. They wondered about the government placing tracking devices in overcoats or on license plates.

    Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the decision also should have settled some of those questions instead of deciding a case about a “21st-century surveillance technique” by using “18th-century tort law.”

    “The court’s reasoning largely disregards what is really important (the use of a GPS for the purpose of long-term tracking) and instead attaches great significance to something that most would view as relatively minor (attaching to the bottom of a car a small, light object that does not interfere in any way with the car’s operation),” Alito wrote.

    Alito’s point was that it was the lengthy GPS surveillance of Jones itself that violated the Fourth Amendment and that “the use of longer term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy.”

    “For such offenses,” he wrote, “society’s expectation has been that law enforcement agents and others would not — and indeed, in the main, simply could not — secretly monitor and catalogue every single movement of an individual’s car for a very long period.”

    The key to the court’s more narrow decision on the case seemed to be Sotomayor. She praised Alito’s “incisively” written concurrence but indicated it might not have gone far enough.

    “People reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the court of carrying out mundane tasks,” Sotomayor wrote. Perhaps people come to see a “diminution of privacy” as inevitable, Sotomayor said.

    “I for one doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year.”

    But, she said, “resolution of these difficult questions” is unnecessary because she agreed with the majority that the government’s “physical intrusion on Jones’ Jeep” supplies a narrower avenue to decide the case.

    The case is United States v. Jones.

    By Robert Barnes,
    Monday, January 23,

  12. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Supreme Court: Warrants needed in GPS tracking

    I am attaching the opinion from the Supreme Court as a pdf.

    While I haven't had time to absorb it all- it's not as inspiring as I had hoped. Certainly a very narrowly focused ruling that left open/undecided many other technological intrusions (aerial/sattelite surveillance for one, and warrantless searches of smartphones/cellphones for another)

    It is also interesting that while the ruling was "unanimous" - the reasons behind the individual rulings are wildly different.
  13. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Supreme Court: Warrants needed in GPS tracking

    FBI Turns Off Thousands of GPS Devices After Supreme Court Ruling

    The Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a “sea change” inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.

    Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called “Big Brother in the 21st Century” on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.

    These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law.

    After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them.

    Mr. Weissmann said that the FBI is now working to develop new guidelines for the use of GPS devices. He said the agency is also working on guidelines to cover the broader implications of the court decision beyond GPS devices.

    For instance, he said, agency is now “wrestling” with the legality of whether agents can lift up the lid of a trash can without committing trespass. The majority opinion in U.S. v. Jones held that the agents had trespassed when placing the GPS device on a car without warrant.

    He said the agency is also considering the implications of the concurring justices – whose arguments were largely based on the idea that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of their movements, even if those movements are in public.

    “From a law enforcement perspective, even though its not technically holding, we have to anticipate how it’s going to go down the road,” Mr. Weissmann said.

    By Julia Angwin
    FEBRUARY 25, 2012

  14. catseye
    After Supreme Court Win, Antoine Jones Still Seeks Justice

    01 March, 2012
    by Clarence Walker and Phillip Smith
    Hawai'i News Daily

    So, a guy gets convicted in a cocaine conspiracy case and sent to prison for life without parole, but wins on appeal and then wins again in a landmark US Supreme Court ruling on search and seizure law that overturns his conviction and forces dramatic changes in the way federal law enforcers go about their work. You would think this guy would be a pretty happy camper, getting back to his life and enjoying his freedom after sticking a thumb in the federal government's eye. But you would be dead wrong.

    Meet Antoine Jones, the Jones in US v. Jones, last month's Supreme Court case in which the high court held that tracking a vehicle's movements by placing a GPS tracking device on it without first obtaining a search warrant is constitutionally impermissible. That ruling set off an earthquake under the Justice Department, evidenced this week with reports that the FBI has turned off some 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.

    FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissman told a University of San Francisco conference appropriately titled "Big Brother in the 21st Century" that the FBI had had problems locating some of the turned off devices and had sought court orders to get permission to briefly turn them on again, so agents can locate and retrieve them. The Supreme Court decision had caused "a sea change" at Justice, he said.

    The Jones case may have been a victory for civil liberties and constitutional rights advocates, but Antoine Jones is still sitting in prison. Determined to nail the former Washington, DC, nightclub owner, federal prosecutors have announced they will seek to retry Jones without the evidence garnered by the GPS tracking device, and they want him securely behind bars until they get around to doing so.

    The decision to not free Jones even though his conviction has been vacated and his case sent back to the trial court is of a piece with prosecutors' earlier tactics. After Jones won his case on appeal, prosecutors argued successfully then against granting him bail as they awaited a Supreme Court decision.

    They think they have a big time dope dealer. Back in 2005, when the case began, Jones was targeted by the FBI and other federal and state police agencies as a major player in a multi-million dollar cocaine ring with ties to a Mexico-based organized crime group. Investigators said Jones and his co-conspirators distributed cocaine throughout the DC metro area. They eventually won a conviction against him, although it took them two separate prosecutions to do so. It was that conviction that was reversed by the Supreme Court.

    Veteran Houston-based crime beat reporter Clarence Walker has been in communication with Jones via mail and the occasional phone call for the past several years. He's also been talking to Jones' appellate attorney, Stephan Leckar, who is exploring a possible plea bargain, although Jones doesn't appear interested in anything less than complete exoneration.

    While Jones is pleased with the Supreme Court decision, he's not so pleased with the fact he is still being denied his freedom.

    "All I can say I am very happy with the Supreme Court decision and I hope the decision helps millions of Americans preserve their right to have reasonable expectation of privacy," Jones told Walker in a phone interview this month. "The ruling came right on time because who knows how many American citizens the government continues to track and monitor for weeks and months without a warrant. Even some of the men here in prison with me have warrantless GPS issues, like a friend of mines named Sigmund James. The government tracked his vehicle for 14 months."

    James was convicted in a massive cocaine trafficking case in Orangeburg, South Carolina, an operation called "Bitter Orange." Like Jones, James was sentenced to life without parole.

    Jones said he expected to be released after the Supreme Court decision and that he was "shocked" when Leckar told him prosecutors were seeking to retry him or get him to accept a plea bargain.

    "Matter of fact, I thought once the mandate was released, I would be freed from prison right away," Jones said, "but Mr. Leckar said the government will never let me go unless I beat them at trial."

    "The government is permitted to retry the conspiracy charge, provided they don't use the GPS evidence," Leckar told Walker. "But there are a number of other serious legal issues that must be resolved including whether drugs and cash said to be from a stash house could be admitted," he explained. "But like I told Antoine, the feds have no intention of letting him go and that they will probably retry him on the evidence that was not obtained by the GPS tracker."

    Jones got a sentence of life without parole the first time around, Leckar noted, and if he loses a second time, he could face the same sentence. But Jones is not ready to compromise. Instead he is going to fight, both in the criminal courts and the civil courts.

    Jones filed a pro se civil suit against numerous law enforcement agencies alleging numerous abuses, but that jailhouse lawsuit was dismissed by the US District Court for Washington, DC, in 2009. Now, however, Jones is refiling, and he has professional legal assistance this time. He is being represented in the civil suit by the DC law firm of Miller & Chevalier.

    "The federal authorities know they not only violated my civil rights, and my wife's and son's rights, but they lied on the witness stand, and they burglarized my home and warehouse," Jones charged. "And so now that I have attorneys representing me in the civil suit against the government, they want to wrongfully convict me again to cover up their lies and the crimes they committed during the investigation of my case. The feds know what they have done was wrong."

    Jones is not only on the offensive with the civil suits. He has also filed obstruction of justice complaints with the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility and the Office of the Inspector General. He is alleging that FBI and ICE agents committed various illegal acts in attempting to nail him, including falsifying federal reports, conducting searches without a search warrant, planting evidence, forging signatures on search consent forms, and perjury.

    "Since Mr. Leckar said the government will never let me go unless I beat them in trial. I will focus on my civil rights complaints against the Feds and make sure my wife, son and mother-in-law pursue their civil right suit as well," Jones explained. "The civil suits and obstruction of justice complaints could get the federal agents and the police prison time if they are indicted and found guilty."

    Purvis Cartwright, a former federal prisoner and highly respected Houston, Texas-based writ writer who has been closely monitoring the GPS case, told Walker that Jones may have made a mistake by suing the federal government because now prosecutors will come back at him very hard to convict him by using "snitchers" to testify against Jones, snitchers that Jones never met.

    Cartwright called that strategy a "get on board" scheme, a way for informants to get their sentences reduced by helping prosecutors. "A rat don't have friends," he said, "only victims."

    So far, one high-profile snitch has already gotten on board to help convict him in his upcoming retrial, Jones said. He said Leckar told him the government is planning to call a high-level Mexican drug dealer to say he shipped large loads of cocaine to him.

    "I've never met nor talked with the guy in my whole life and he never testified in either of my trials," Jones said.

    "The feds, like the DEA and FBI, have snitchers in the joint," Cartwright explained. "They will go to these guys and tell them they are trying to get something on a particular guy and then the feds will share with the snitchers some important background information about the target and next thing you know they ready to testify in court against someone they don't even know," he said. "This is rampant in the federal joint."

    "The government still thinks they have a case, but they must have forgot what the Court of Appeals stated in their opinion," Jones said, before quoting word for word: "The evidence linking Jones to a conspiracy was not strong, let alone overwhelming, and the government did not have a drug transaction in which Jones was involved, nor any evidence that Jones possessed any drugs."

    Prosecutors are reportedly offering a plea deal that would result in a 12-year federal prison sentence for Jones, but he isn't going to take it despite the possibility he could once again doing life without parole. He maintains his innocence, he said.

    "I'll fight this case until the end."


  15. rejectedbysociety
    Re: Conviction-Hungry Feds Refuse to Free Man Who Won His Freedom Twice

    I know a guy who turned down 4 1/2 years. He's doing 25 now. He was living over 350 miles from a raid on his brother's house. They found a shoe box with a kilo in it that happened to have one of his thumb prints on it, is it uncommon for someone to give their brother a pair of shoes? The feds don't care about silly little things like evidence or properly instructing jurors what reasonable doubt is. He needs to take that 12 years unless his lawyer is a complete MONSTER at trial, from what I can tell federal juries get the burden of proof ass backwards
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