Quantcast
Connect with us

Judge warns of ‘Orwellian state’ in warrantless GPS tracking case

Published

on

Police in Delaware may soon be unable to use global positioning systems (GPS) to keep tabs on a suspect unless they have a court-signed warrant, thanks to a recent ruling by a superior court judge who cited famed author George Orwell in her decision.

In striking down evidence obtained through warrantless GPS tracking, Delaware Judge Jan R. Jurden wrote that “an Orwellian state is now technologically feasible,” adding that “without adequate judicial preservation of privacy, there is nothing to protect our citizens from being tracked 24/7.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The ruling goes against a federal appeals court’s decision last summer that allowed warrantless tracking by GPS.

Jurden was ruling on the case of Michael D. Holden, who police say was pulled over with 10 lbs. of marijuana in his car last February. Holden was allegedly named by a DEA task force informant in 2009, and in early 2010, without obtaining a warrant, police placed a GPS device on his car, allowing them to follow him whenever he used the vehicle.

Police investigators say they had the GPS on Holden’s car for 20 days when they saw what they believed to be a cash-for-drugs exchange involving Holden in New Jersey. Police stopped him on a bridge crossing into Delaware and arrested him.

Unless there are special circumstances, “the warrantless placement of a GPS device to track a suspect 24 hours a day constitutes an unlawful search,” Judge Jurden wrote in her ruling (PDF). “In this case, there was insufficient probable cause independent of the GPS tracking to stop Holden’s vehicle where and when it was stopped, and therefore, the evidence seized from Holden’s vehicle must be suppressed.”

Prosecutors were forced to drop marijuana trafficking charges as a result.

ADVERTISEMENT

Jurden argued that the same legal principle that allows officers to tail a suspect in traffic, without a warrant, doesn’t apply to GPS because the devices reveal far more about a person under surveillance than physical surveillance could — and more than police need.

“Prolonged GPS surveillance provides more information than one reasonably expects to ‘expose to the public,'” she wrote. “The whole of one’s movement over a prolonged period of time tells a vastly different story than movement over a day as may be completed by manned surveillance.”

She added, “It takes little to imagine what constant and prolonged surveillance could expose about someone’s life even if they are not participating in any criminal activity.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Wesley Oliver, an associate law professor at Widener University, told the Wilmington News Journal that the ruling falls in line with judicial opinions in New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

“Without such restrictions, Oliver said, an incumbent candidate for sheriff could track an opponent with a GPS device — searching for visits to a strip club, mistress’ house or clinic — and be perfectly within the law,” the paper reported.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the issue is far from settled. The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling last August effectively allowing the use of GPS tracking without a warrant. Law enforcement agencies in the nine western US states covered by the Ninth Circuit now have the ability to use GPS without a warrant

A dissenting judge in that case also referred to Orwell in his dissenting opinion.

1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

That ruling is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Daniel Tencer and Stephen C. Webster


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Stephen Colbert details ‘petty’ Trump’s 46-minute ‘pants-filling tantrum’ to ‘kamikaze MAGA dead-enders’

Published

on

"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert walked through President Donald Trump's recent 46-minute Facebook rant in an epic opening monologue Wednesday night.

Thursday will mark one month since the election, and "the president has spent that entire time throwing a loud, pants-filling tantrum," said Colbert. "If we don't change presidents soon, he's going to get a rash."

He explained that the world had been subjected to Trump's "call to arms" for his supporters, seeking to overthrow the election and nullify the will of the people.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

‘Book her on Jeanine Pirro’: Witness ridiculed after going viral during Giuliani’s Michigan hearing

Published

on

Rudy Giuliani's election fraud hearing went off the rails Wednesday evening as one woman monopolized the comments section with a series of rants.

“That poll book is off by 100,000!” claimed the woman. “Why don’t you look at the registered voters on there? … what was the turnout rate, 120 percent?”

Some speculated if the woman was intoxicated while others wondered if she'd been using Gov. Rick Perry's "smart glasses" as a talking stick. One Michigander explained, however, that some people in the state simply talk that way.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Republican senator loudly tells Trump on speakerphone he’s going to lose his two major issues in military bill

Published

on

The military spending bill is coming up for a vote in the "Lame Duck Session" but the two major things President Donald Trump wanted aren't happening now.

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe was walking through the halls of the U.S. Capitol with the president on speakerphone again, this time telling him the bad news about the bill. Inhofe was caught by reporters in a Capitol Hill restaurant several months ago loudly talking to Trump on a speakerphone. In that call, he promised Trump that there would not be name changes to Confederate bases.

Continue Reading