Quantcast
Connect with us

Federal appeals court rules that Fourth Amendment protects cell phone location data

Published

on

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday that cell phone tower tracking data used to convict a Miami man for a string of arm robberies that resulted in a 162-year prison sentence violated his constitutional right of privacy.

The ruling, however, is little relief for 22-year-old Quartavious Davis, whose conviction and sentence were mostly upheld after the court found police and federal prosecutors acted in good faith by seeking permission to access historical cell site data from a federal magistrate judge.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The government’s warrantless gathering of his cell site location information violated his reasonable expectation of privacy,” federal Judge David Bryan Sentelle wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel of 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case comes as federal courts around the country wrestle with cell phone privacy issues. Phone data are often used as evidence to show suspects were in the vicinity of a crime.

“This is the first time a court has addressed the Fourth Amendment implications of historic cell phone location tracking based on a factual record that shows how intrusive it was,” Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said on Wednesday.

The court agreed with the ACLU, which argued cell phone location data was protected under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures.

The ruling does not prevent police from using the cell phone tower tracking data, but requires them to first obtain a warrant from a judge based on probable cause and not simply a court order based on reasonable suspicion.

ADVERTISEMENT

The ruling did find in Davis’ favor on a minor issue over his sentencing on one count, stating that the evidence did not prove he brandished a gun during a robbery, only that he was in possession of one. Under the sentencing guidelines that would only amount to a two-year sentence reduction.

Davis was convicted in 2010 of carrying a gun during more than a half dozen robberies and sentenced to 1,941 months in prison. The unusually long sentence stemmed from a controversial practice known as “stacking,” in which mandatory minimum sentences for each charge are counted consecutively.

(Editing by David Adams and Jim Loney)

ADVERTISEMENT

[Image: “Senior Businessman Looking Through Blinds Whilst Making Call” via Shutterstock]

ADVERTISEMENT

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

Breaking Banner

Matt Gaetz forgot which network he was on: Surprised CNN anchor said ‘I’ve never been called Sean Hannity’

Published

on

Rep. Matt Gaetz seemed to confuse cable news networks during a Thursday appearance

Gaetz was interviewed by CNN's Chris Cuomo, who aggressively challenged Gaetz on the facts as the Florida Republican attempted to defend President Donald Trump.

Despite the fact Cuomo's interview was nothing like the puff segments Gaetz is used to on Fox, the congressman seemed confused by the end.

"Congressman, you are always welcome, wherever I am, at nine or eleven, whenever," Cuomo said.

"Thanks Sean," Gaetz replied.

"Did you just call me Sean?" Cuomo asked. "Did you just call me Sean?"

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

California lawmaker who chaired Republican Assembly caucus leaving GOP — to become an independent: report

Published

on

On Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reported that California Assemblyman Chad Mayes, the former Assembly Minority Leader, is leaving the Republican Party and registering as No Party Preference.

"Instead of focusing on solutions for the big problems that we've got, we focused on winning elections," said Mayes in his announcement. "For me, I'm at the point in my life where I'm done with gamesmanship."

Mayes, a controversial figure who was implicated in an affair with a fellow public official, represents Yucca Valley. He is the second Republican Assemblyman this year to leave the party, after Brian Maienschein of San Diego, who Maienschein of San Diego.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

‘Quantum physics generator’ incident in Ohio results in evacuation — hazmat found no radiation

Published

on

Authorities in Columbus, Ohio evacuated dozens of homes after a man called 911 to report being burned by a

"Firefighters say nothing threatening was found in a northwest Columbus garage," WCMH-TV reported. "According to firefighters, a man called and reported that he received ‘RF burns’ while building some sort of ‘quantum physics generator’ in a garage. The man used words like ‘particle accelerator,’ ‘alpha rays,’ and ‘radiation’ while describing how he was burned."

Continue Reading