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NY Court Says Police Can't Track Suspect With GPS

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the when-a-cop-slaps-you-on-the-back-check-your-back dept.

The Courts 414

SoundGuyNoise sends in a story that brings into relief just how unsettled is the question of whether police can use GPS to track suspects without a warrant. Just a couple of days ago a Wisconsin appeals court ruled that such tracking is OK; and today an appeals court in New York reached the opposite conclusion. "It was wrong for a police investigator to slap a GPS tracking device under a defendant's van to track his movements, the state's top court ruled today. A sharply divided NY Court of Appeals, in a 4-3 decision, reversed the burglary conviction of defendant Scott Weaver, 41, of Watervliet. Four years ago, State Police tracked Weaver over 65 days in connection with the burglary investigation."

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track my cock (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27924795)

as it enters your asshole. Then your mouth.

Re:track my cock (2)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924835)

It sort of defeats the point of tracking if you tell us where it's going to be ahead of time.

Re:track my cock (3, Funny)

NoStarchPlox (1552983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924941)

And it ruins the surprise!

Headline is inaccurate (5, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924855)

The judgment was that they couldn't track a person without a warrant. I presume that if they had convinced a judge of probable cause before they lojacked the suspect, they would have been in the clear.

Re:Headline is inaccurate (5, Interesting)

Teese (89081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924905)

Which is weird, because in the Wisconsin case, the officers had a warrant. The judges there said it wasn't needed!

Re:Headline is inaccurate (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925043)

This is why we have a hierarchical court system.

Re:Headline is inaccurate (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925241)

It isn't that strange, state laws are anything but uniform.

Re:Headline is inaccurate (3, Informative)

alen (225700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925401)

you need a warrant to track a person's private movements. I think in Wisconsin it was argued that that since the suspect visited public places then the warrant and the GPS tracking wasn't legal. but the police physically followed him as well and this is why it withstood appeal.

Re:Headline is inaccurate (4, Insightful)

Azghoul (25786) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925423)

Which is strange to me: They tracked one guy for 65 days but didn't think they had probable cause enough to get a warrant to do so?

defense approach difference? (0, Troll)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924859)

What is not noted in TFM is what the defense approach was. On what grounds did they protest the use of GPS tracking? Add to that the potential variances in state law and it's not shocking that we might get an opposite conclusion.

Of course, IANAL, so I could we way off here. Is NY Country Lawyer around to answer this one?

Re:defense approach difference? (4, Funny)

The Moof (859402) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924915)

He usually sticks around articles about things ending in 'AA' (RIAA, MPAA, etc).

Perhaps if we change the title to "NY Court Says Police Can't Track Suspect with GPSAA" he'll swing by.

Re:defense approach difference? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925229)

Probably because NYCL is into civil law, not criminal law.

Stolen device has GPS? (2, Interesting)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924873)

I want to know whether it would be wrong if they steal my phone which has GPS tracking set up to be available to me?

Re:Stolen device has GPS? (5, Informative)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925155)

if someone steals your phone, it's still yours. even if it's out of your reach, you still have authority over it, so the police would be legally allowed to track it if you consent to it. any lawyer or paralegal here to correct me if i'm wrong ?

I remember some years ago a story about a stolen mac that had a remote management software that phoned home everytime the notebook connected to the internet. as soon as the thieve dialed up (it was still on the dial-up age), the owner logged in to his mac and used the iSight camera to snap a picture of the individual. this was not considered an invasion because the mac was his to begin with. IIRC, the police used the picture to identify and arrest the thieve. the mac was located and returned.

Re:Stolen device has GPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925341)

That's awesome! PLEASE post a link to this?!

THANK YOU! Re:Stolen device has GPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925191)

Thank you for a great business venture idea. The market needs such a service.

Re:Stolen device has GPS? (1)

soniCron88 (870042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925201)

Yes, it's called LoJack.

Re:Stolen device has GPS? (1)

soniCron88 (870042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925219)

Rather, I mean NO, it's NOT wrong, and it's already being done with services like LoJack.

What's the matter with these cops? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27924907)

Can't they just ask for a warrant, and not have to worry whether the case is going to be thrown out?

If it's worth the trouble to track the guy for 65 days, surely it's worth the trouble to get a warrant.

Re:What's the matter with these cops? (4, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924975)

You mean the police should actually demonstrate integrity by making sure they obey the law they're sworn to uphold!

Re:What's the matter with these cops? (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925017)

Fuck integrity, how about just following the SOP? It's not like we don't have centuries of accumulated knowledge on how to do police work.

Re:What's the matter with these cops? (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925345)

For those who(m?) were never in the army (including myself), SOP==standard operating procedure. I know this from English class.

Re:What's the matter with these cops? (2, Interesting)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925267)

Can't they just ask for a warrant, and not have to worry whether the case is going to be thrown out?

They could have tried to get a warrant. They probably didn't because they didn't have enough evidence to get a warrant and they decided to play a hunch.

A simple loophole (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924919)

Since there is apparently no legal issue with car companies issuing GPS-enabled remote engine locks, the police should simply start renting cars to their suspects. Problem solved!

In A Few Years, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27924921)

all new vehicles will have GPSs installed as safety requirements and all old vehicles will be retro-fitted.

Re:In A Few Years, (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924991)

And all will be fitted with Onstar-like systems with two-way microphones. For the safety and convenience of motorists, of course.

Re:In A Few Years, (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925139)

For the safety and convenience of motorists, of course.

Don't forget the children. You gotta think of them.

Re:In A Few Years, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925329)

Doing that too much/out loud will put you in jail.

applies to stakeouts too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27924951)

Devoting much of his 20-page ruling to how new technology delves into a person's life, Lippman said: "What the technology yields and records with breathtaking quality and quantity, is a highly detailed profile, not simply of where we go, but by easy inference, of our associations â" political, religious, amicable and amorous, to name only a few â" and of the pattern of our professional and avocational pursuits."

That same line of reasoning would apply not only to a GPS bug on your car, but also to someone following you around with a notepad.

Re:applies to stakeouts too? (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925251)

This is where technology starts to create a gray area for ethics. Would it be okay for your neighbor to slap a GPS on your car to track you without your knowledge? Spying on individuals for the sake of law enforcement investigation is already pushing close to the boundary of ethically acceptable practice in my opinion. And anyone could legally do it. If slapping a GPS on your car without a warrant is acceptable for law enforcement, then it would also have to be acceptable for your neighbor.

Legal Basis? (2, Insightful)

Wowlapalooza (1339989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924955)

I'd like to see the full text of the opinion. The small extracts I've seen so far basically amount to "I don't like giving the police such power", which, if it were the only legal basis of the opinion, would be the worst kind of legislating-from-the-bench, and not likely to survive an appeal. Surely in 20 pages of opinion, there was an actual legal basis given for their decision. One can hope?

Re:Legal Basis? (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925195)

I'd like to see the full text of the opinion.

Amen. There's not enough in the summary to understand WHY the court ruled the way it did.

Re:Legal Basis? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925289)

Ya, because it's a good idea to blindly give police more power without oversight.

Re:Legal Basis? (2, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925405)

It's not a good idea. But it's also out of the Judiciary's hands. They are to rule based on law established by the Legislature and approved by the Executive.

Re:Legal Basis? (2, Informative)

NoStarchPlox (1552983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925431)

They are to rule based on law established by the Legislature and approved by the Executive.

They did. It's this new thing called "The US Constitution".

Re:Legal Basis? (2, Informative)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925375)

Probably something about search and seizure, and the ninth and tenth amendments (the anti-elastic clauses).

Re:Legal Basis? (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925441)

Besides, it's criminal; was it a mistrial or an acquittal?

Close, but no cigar (5, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924961)

When one reads the linked article, the court indicated it was because no warrant was obtained that the tracking via GPS was invalid, not the tracking in and of itself.

Had the police done their job and obtained a warrant to plant a device on the persons car, there wouldn't have been a problem. They obviously had reasonable suspicion to suspect he was the burglar because they knew enough to single him out.

This isn't about Big Brother watching you, this is about sloppy police work (though it does tie in nicely with the previous article from Wisconsin).

Did he still steal stuff? (0)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924971)

From the skimming I did of the summary it looks like the sentence was over turned because they didn't get a warrant for using GPS to track the guy. Should someone who committed a crime be let go because some did not follow procedures NO, should there be discipline for not using proper procedures absolutely. Improper procedures should not cause a case to be overturned unless of course it could be shown that the person was guilty only because of the improper procedures.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (4, Insightful)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925031)

From the skimming I did of the summary it looks like the sentence was over turned because they didn't get a warrant for using GPS to track the guy. Should someone who committed a crime be let go because some did not follow procedures NO, should there be discipline for not using proper procedures absolutely. Improper procedures should not cause a case to be overturned unless of course it could be shown that the person was guilty only because of the improper procedures.

Wrong. The ONLY punishment appropriate when government violates the rights of the accused in the course of collecting evidence is to deprive them of the use of that evidence.

If that means guilty people getting off, so be it, in the end, denying government actors the use of illegally obtained evidence in the end is the ONLY way we have giving them a disincentive to conduct illegal searches and seizures.

The Constitution is not a technicality.
 

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (2, Interesting)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925221)

What I meant and said poorly, is that there must have been some sort of stolen goods that the guy had in his possession. That alone should be good enough for the guy to be put in jail. The fact that police followed improper procedures needs to be addressed in a very harsh manner. However, I still think that someone should not be able to get away with a crime on a technicality.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925261)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_of_the_poisonous_tree

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

NoStarchPlox (1552983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925297)

However, I still think that someone should not be able to get away with a crime on a technicality.

Good for you. Some of us actual value due process and police following legal procedures.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (2, Informative)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925365)

What I meant and said poorly, is that there must have been some sort of stolen goods that the guy had in his possession. That alone should be good enough for the guy to be put in jail. The fact that police followed improper procedures needs to be addressed in a very harsh manner. However, I still think that someone should not be able to get away with a crime on a technicality.

Doesn't matter. They illegally placed a tracking device and used that as the method of catching him with the stolen goods. Because the method they used to catch him with the stolen stuff was illegal, then that evidence is tainted and inadmissible.

Trust me, you don't want it any other way. Had the police done good police work (ie: followed him with police detectives) instead of the quick and easy way (slap the GPS onto his vehicle) they would have caught him and the conviction would have stood.

We shouldn't allow the government to get away with circumventing the Constitution with technology for their own convenience.

Plus, given that the police and prosecution now have been proven to have broken the law THEMSELVES to collect this evidence, I don't necessarily take their word for it that this was the burglar. Since they were clearly willing to break the law to get a conviction, who's to say they didnt' plant this evidence? The guilty don't deserve a presumption of innocence, and by this ruling, those involved in this case have been found guilty of violating the rights of the accused.

If they didn't have enough evidence going in to get a warrant for the suspect in the first place, one wonders how flimsy their case was otherwise...

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (5, Informative)

ricree (969643) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925453)

There is a legal principal known as Fruit of the poisonous tree [wikipedia.org] . Essentially, any evidence that has been found due to an illegal search, even if it wasn't found during the search itself, is inadmissible.

So if the stolen property was discovered because of the gps, then it is likely inadmissible. The article didn't say one way or another, so it is tough to tell. If it had nothing to do with the gps, then it can still be used in court

Remember also that the judge merely ordered a new trial with the bad evidence excluded. If they still have enough evidence that was discovered independent of the illegal search, he may still be convicted.

Ultimately, there is no better way to defend our rights that to completely bar any evidence that has been found in violation of them. It sometimes has the unfortunate side effect or letting the guilty go free, but so long as police maintain their professionalism and act legally it should be a rare occurrence.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925475)

there must have been some sort of stolen goods that the guy had in his possession

The problem is, could the Police have found those "goods" without the GPS tracking information?

Fruit of the poisonous tree. [wikipedia.org]
Any evidence obtained through illegal means cannot be used. Additionally, any evidence obtained through the use of illegally gotten information cannot be used.

I still think that someone should not be able to get away with a crime on a technicality.

If you don't like the Constitution then propose an amendment. (...or leave the US :)
The occasional bad guy going free is the price we pay for a free society.

That is the very foundation of our legal system (4, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925033)

That it is better to let ten guilty men go free than to convict a single innocent man.

Throwing the case out is the discipline used when the police or prosecution step out of line.

That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925135)

That it is better to let ten guilty men go free than to convict a single innocent man.

No, its not. You go right ahead and live on the block where 10 guilty guys went free.

The way to deal with police mistakes is with sanctions and fines. This is the way it was before the 1960s.

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (1)

NoStarchPlox (1552983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925209)

The way to deal with police mistakes is with sanctions and fines. This is the way it was before the 1960s.

And it was completely ineffective. Sorry, but I'd prefer not to go back to a time where due process and warrants were afterthoughts.

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925227)

And, especially before the 1960's, police behavior was egregious, and sanctions and fines were pitifully ineffective.

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925247)

This is the way it was before the 1960s.

Ahh, so yours is an argument from tradition, then? Or do you have an actual argument?

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (1)

dmatos (232892) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925249)

And you're free to be the one innocent man that is imprisoned for life with no hope of parole.

I'd rather live on the block with 10 guilty guys, thanks very much.

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925255)

In criminal law, Blackstone's formulation (also known as Blackstone's ratio or the Blackstone ratio) is the principle: "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer", expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackstone%27s_formulation

You're right! it was from the 60's!

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (3, Insightful)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925257)

The way to deal with police mistakes is with sanctions and fines.

So, the police get a slap on the wrist and an innocent person goes to the electric chair? No. Absolutely no. We have to err on the side of caution and give the accused the benefit of the doubt. Innocent until proven guilty, and you can't be proven guilty with illegally obtained evidence.

This is the way it was before the 1960s.

I'd like to see a citation for this. Even if it is true, so what? Who cares what it was like before the 1960s. We didn't have high speed internet before the 1960s either. Should we also go back to computers that take up a whole room and aren't connected to one another?

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (1)

agnosticanarch (105861) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925313)

Okay, I'll live on the block with 10 guilty guys, and you can be the one innocent man going to butt-rape prison. That works for me.

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (1)

TheCabal (215908) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925325)

I'd rather live on that block than in a jurisdiction where shoddy policy work and disregard for procedure and civil rights are encouraged.

You don't achieve justice by breaking the law.

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925331)

As long as you live on the block with the asshole fascist cops.

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925363)

That it is better to let ten guilty men go free than to convict a single innocent man.

No, its not. You go right ahead and live on the block where 10 guilty guys went free.

The way to deal with police mistakes is with sanctions and fines. This is the way it was before the 1960s.

I'm assuming you're innocent so why don't we just put you and the 10 guilty guys together in a cell.

Re:That is a 1960's liberal mistake. (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925445)

You go right ahead and live on the block where 10 guilty guys went free.

Tell you what. I'll live with the criminals, and you live in the next town over where the cops can do whatever the hell they want. I guarantee you I'll have a longer, safer life than you will. What people like you never seem to understand is that when cops don't follow the law, they're no longer serving and protecting -- they're just the biggest, toughest, meanest gang on the street.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

NoStarchPlox (1552983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925047)

Yeah, who needs stupid things like due process. It's not like it's a constitutionally guaranteed right or anything.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925133)

It's got nothing to do with due process.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (2, Insightful)

NoStarchPlox (1552983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925239)

You're joking right? Please tell me you are joking. Do you even know what due process means?

Due process is the principle that the government must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person according to the law of the land.

This case was about the police not respecting the legal rights of the accused person hence by it's very definition it is a violation of due process.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925059)

Improper procedures should not cause a case to be overturned unless of course it could be shown that the person was guilty only because of the improper procedures.

Which is likely what happened. The remedy for a violation of the Fourth Amendment is that the evidence discovered in violation of the right is excluded from use at trial. If he had previously been convicted, the remedy is typically to reverse the conviction and remand for a new trial.

The exclusionary rule emerged after much warning from the Court to police agencies to not violate the Fourth Amendment. It's purpose is to deter the police from violating your rights by making the fruit of such violations inadmissible.

Also, unrelated to your comment but worth mentioning, while the New York Court of Appeals is technically "an appeals court," it is more specifically the highest court in New York State.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (2, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925071)

Should someone who committed a crime be let go because some did not follow procedures

Yes. That's the whole point of having a judicial system. It spells out how the police and the legal profession must act to bring cases to trial. If you're going to abandon that system, then I don't suppose you have a problem with police coming into your house at any time of the day or night to see if you are breaking any laws.

Improper procedures should not cause a case to be overturned unless of course it could be shown that the person was guilty only because of the improper procedures.

If you, as the police or prosecutor, can't be bothered to follow proper procedures, who's to say you didn't make up evidence to indict someone? It stands to reason if whatever procedures are in place weren't followed, how does the court know that what it is asked to rule on is valid?

To use the well-worn phrase: Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925277)

I don't think it's as cut and dry as you say. There are obviously differeing opinions. If there weren't we wouldn't need judges. We would all just know what was right and what was wrong.

The police didn't obtain a warrant, the prosecutor didn't have a problem presenting that evidence at trial and the judge allowed it into evidence. I'm assuming defense counsel opposed it.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925077)

You're absolutely right--if the police break laws to get a conviction, the suspect shouldn't go free. After all--laws aren't for the police to follow--and we certainly shouldn't discourage them from pursuit of justice at any cost.

Now excuse me while I grab a blowtorch, pliers, and a corkscrew--you're about to sign a piece of paper admitting you killed Amelia Earhart, and waive your right of appeal while I'm at it.

With logic like that--you deserve this.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925087)

Yes [wikipedia.org] .

Beyond the constitutional arguments, The exclusionary rule is, arguably, one of the few effective measures for keeping police from disregarding due process and abusing their power. Otherwise, it is oh-so-very-very-tempting to just bend the rules a little to get the guy you "know" is the right one. If doing the wrong thing is a good way of getting your case thrown out, you'll be a lot less likely to do the wrong thing.

There is empirical evidence, as well, for this position. This [latimes.com] is an op-ed from a legal academic who has studied the matter.

"Getting tough on crime" at the expense of method is initially attractive; but it is extraordinarily corrosive to our rights and liberties in the medium and long terms. The ethical flexibility that allows the cops to create a fictional confidential informant to seize otherwise unavailable evidence today, will be the same flexibility that allows the cops to create fictional evidence tomorrow.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925097)

Should someone who committed a crime be let go because some did not follow procedures NO

Actually, yes they should. Otherwise, police have no incentive to follow procedures.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925107)

Improper procedures should not cause a case to be overturned unless of course it could be shown that the person was guilty only because of the improper procedures.

You're essentially contradicting yourself. You say "sure, evidence collected using improper (that is, illegal) procedures is admissible in court!" and then contradict it with "but evidence collected using improper procedures can't be used to show guilt."

The police need to follow the law. If they don't, then they are the ones out of luck. If this is not the case, then there is no incentive for the police to follow the law. In fact, there is considerable incentive for them to break the law. If they are able to collect more compelling evidence by breaking the law, have it allowed in a court case, and then result in a guilty verdict that they may not have gotten by following the law, then what is the incentive for them to follow the law?

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1, Troll)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925119)

From my basic understanding of the US legal system, evidence obtained improperly is considered tainted and suspect, and is thus thrown out.

Think of it this way; If the police officer in question is willing to collect evidence in a manner contrary to procedure and law, it is entirely likely that he is willing to plant or forge evidence to get a conviction.

Remember: In America, it's still "Innocent until proven guilty." no matter what one advocacy group or another might say. While I hate for a burglar to go free, we cannot assume that the defendant in this case was indeed a burglar just because the police say so. Nor can we assume the evidence wasn't forged in some manner if the police weren't even willing to follow procedure.

The judges did the right thing in tossing out the evidence, IMHO.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925147)

Sounds good in theory maybe but its a very dangerous idea. Your rights would then be limited by the amount of grief an officer is willing to go through in order to catch you in some illegal act. Imagine you're a cop tracking down a serial killer and you think there's evidence inside someone's house, wouldn't you be willing to risk punishment to prevent the guy killing again?

All the sudden the rule would be 'you need a warrant and probably cause OR be willing to risk punishment' which is not quite the same thing. Throwing out the conviction is the only punishment that will work to deter abuses, because it is the only punishment that takes away the reward for illegal searches. Otherwise there will always be times when the reward (catching the bad guy) is greater than the punishment (the end of your career), especially when you'll be a hero to the public for your 'brave sacrifice'.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925351)

All the sudden the rule would be 'you need a warrant and probably cause OR be willing to risk punishment' which is not quite the same thing. Throwing out the conviction is the only punishment that will work to deter abuses, because it is the only punishment that takes away the reward for illegal searches. Otherwise there will always be times when the reward (catching the bad guy) is greater than the punishment (the end of your career), especially when you'll be a hero to the public for your 'brave sacrifice'.

Why not do both?

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925167)

Should someone who committed a crime be let go because some did not follow procedures

The problem with allowing the conviction to stand is that it encourages sloppy police work, in a "kill em all and let god sort em out" kind of way. You end up with police violating everyone's rights but then only charging the guy who actually did it. You also end up with police who bust into the homes of people they just don't like in hopes of finding some kind of evidence of a crime.

As odd as it sounds, the purpose of overturning this conviction is more to protect you and me than it is to protect the burglar in this case.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925253)

No.

If the police and prosecutors can get away with not following procedures, then they will never follow procedures. If ignoring legal procedures does not jeopardize the chance of conviction, then there is no penalty for not following those procedures, and instead creates incentive to bypass the procedures completely. After all, even if the defendant finds out, they'd still be convicted.

Overturning a conviction because of procedural violations sets an example that procedural violations will not be tolerated.

Our system of justice is built on the premise that it is better to let a guilty person go free than penalize an innocent. The state does not get a free pass to do whatever it wants. It must operate in a legal manner, and that means following established procedures designed to not violate the rights of the potentially innocent. We hold the state to this standard so that everyone has the opportunity for a fair trial.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

pedrop357 (681672) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925263)

Who would engage in discipline for not following proper procedures?
Internal affairs? The DA?

There are myriad examples of police officers getting with slap-on-the-wrist punishments for things that would net the average citizen 20+ years.

Take, for example, the police involved in the Kathryn Johnston murder. I'm completely unaware of any cop involved getting more than 10 years. They lied to obtain a warrant, shot a woman and planted drugs in her house while she bled to death.
What do you think the punishment would be for failing to secure a warrant? 1-day paid suspension?

Think of the exclusionary rule like asset forfeiture. When a person engages in an illegal act, the tools they used as well as any assets acquired as a result are seized. It should remain the same way for evidence-if the government breaks the law by not securing a warrant, any rewards are removed. Thus, there is no incentive in not following procedure.

If the government can seize lottery winnings because the ticket was bought with money alledgedly made from drug dealing, then the government has to deal with having everything they learned/obtained as a result of an improper search excluded.

Re:Did he still steal stuff? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925335)

Should someone who committed a crime be let go because some did not follow procedures

YES. For one, it's the law. Second, this prevents government from turning into a police state... they can't just do whatever they want, they must obey the law and it's limits on them. Otherwise things like requiring a warrant become meaningless.

You seriously need to relearn consitutional law and why things are the way they are.

Fourth Amendment (3, Insightful)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27924981)

My understanding here is that monitoring without a warrant would constitute (no pun intended) a breach of the 'unreasonable search and seizure' part of the US constitution. If a cop can't investigate someone on the sole basis of profiling (racial or otherwise), then he shouldn't be allowed to GPS tag them without a warrant either. Seems simple to me... No?

Re:Fourth Amendment (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925093)

My understanding here is that monitoring without a warrant would constitute (no pun intended) a breach of the 'unreasonable search and seizure' part of the US constitution. If a cop can't investigate someone on the sole basis of profiling (racial or otherwise), then he shouldn't be allowed to GPS tag them without a warrant either. Seems simple to me... No?

This reeks of laziness on the part of law enforcement to me.

If the man was a suspect, they could have had plainclothes officers follow his vehicle. This would not have required a warrant nor violated his rights, so long as the officers didn't violate his person or property without a warrant.

Instead they slapped a GPS on his vehicle and allowed it to save them the time, labor, and expense of doing so.

That's where they crossed the line. Had they done good police work (ie: followed him instead of taking the lazy way out) they would have collected the SAME evidence and done so legally.

Re:Fourth Amendment (2, Insightful)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925327)

Instead they slapped a GPS on his vehicle and allowed it to save them the time, labor, and expense of doing so.

They are saving time and money with a highly accurate technology. As a tax payer, I think this approach sounds great. As a citizen, I think this approach should always require a warrant.

Re:Fourth Amendment (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925481)

I'm not sure this would necessarily qualify as "unreasonable search and seizure". That was a protection designed to keep officials from searching your person (or your property) and pocketing your property without just cause. Would the court have ruled differently if the car were monitored by a series of surveillance cameras (assuming enough were in place to track the movements)?

I'm guessing that the judges involved thought about the places they go, and decided that they wouldn't want anyone knowing where they stopped.

I just don't know. It does not sound unreasonable, however, it could be reasonable to expect them to go through some approval process (akin to obtaining a warrant). The technology hold much potential to aid law enforcement, but, like any other technology, it could lend itself to abuses. I guess I was reared to believe if you're not doing anything wrong, then you have no reason to fear someone knowing where you are. It may be a simplistic view, but it is one that accompanies an implicit trust of government as an agent of and for the protection of the people. If you do not trust the government, then such an action would, logically, be deemed suspect.

Although I was reared to trust the government, my life experiences have pushed me more and more toward a distrust of any government.

Stake Out - Surveillance (1)

gzine (949554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925009)

How is this different from assigning a detective to follow the guy around all day?

Re:Stake Out - Surveillance (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925083)

1. It did not use up the "valuable" resource that is the detective. Meaning the police could just plant one of these devices on all cars in the city.

2. If a detective is following you, he normally will not follow you onto your private property, else he could be charged with trespass.

3.If a detective follows a person around that person has the ability to at least seek harassment charges.

In other news... (3, Funny)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925029)

Dozens of Wisconsin criminals have been seen driving in the general direction of New York.

Re:In other news... (4, Funny)

YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925183)

they are going to have a bit of a problem when they hit the lake. hopefully the smarter of them will head in the general direction of Chicago, and then Ohio, before heading towards New York.

Yeah, its pretty cool. Go to http://dragnet....co (1)

Marrow (195242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925319)

And you can see them fleeing live on the net.

Re:In other news... (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925349)

And of course we know that from the gps tracking provided by the Wisconsin police dept.

Re:In other news... (2, Funny)

Legrow (1023457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925357)

Dozens of Wisconsin criminals have been seen driving in the general direction of New York.

We know.

-- The Wisconsin police

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925447)

Yeah, I think that I saw W and Cheney headed to NY as well.

What's Good for the Goose (3, Interesting)

bperkins (12056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925045)

I understand the argument that GPS tracking is not significantly more intrusive than tailing.

But I wonder how police officers would react if GPS devices were surreptitiously placed on their cruisers.

Re:What's Good for the Goose (1, Troll)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925337)

But I wonder how police officers would react if GPS devices were surreptitiously placed on their cruisers.

I was under the impression that police cruisers in most (if not all) locales in the US have been equipped with GPS tracking for many years now. I know for a fact that the NY State trooper vehicles have them (I have an in-law who's a trooper) and I think my local township does too. From what my in-law told me, the troopers union requested the GPS devices for officer safety reasons.

Re:What's Good for the Goose (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925395)

I wonder how those Wisconsin judges would react if someone planted a GPS device on one their cars and then published their locations on the web...

Re:What's Good for the Goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27925477)

As far as I know, those are government property and are indeed GPS tracked in most places (granted funds).

The only argument I have is that they are changing the state/manipulating private property. I don't see how the judge could overlook (or maybe ignorantly missed) that they are ATTACHING something to someone's car. Listen:

It is arguably valid that attaching a GPS device is the equivalent to governments injecting RFID tags under your skin when you were born (or somehow attached a device to your person without your knowledge).

State constitutions differ. (3, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925115)

There is not necessarily any conflict. That which is forbidden by the constitution and/or statutes of one state may be permitted in another. Whether or not this is permitted by the US Constitution must be decided by a Federal court.

Re:State constitutions differ. (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925145)

There is not necessarily any conflict. That which is forbidden by the constitution and/or statutes of one state may be permitted in another. Whether or not this is permitted by the US Constitution must be decided by a Federal court.

State constitutions cannot conflict with the Federal one with respects to rights granted, as in the Bill of Rights, and in this case, the requirement that a warrant be obtained.

States can grant you MORE rights than the Federal Constitution, but they may not restrict you more than it does.

Re:State constitutions differ. (1)

pi_rules (123171) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925243)

Right, but the state's supreme court doesn't get to decide what federal law says. That's up to a federal court.

This crap just takes time to shake out.

Re:State constitutions differ. (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925225)

Don't the human rights amendments in the US constitution supersede all others? I know that there's the state protection in there, preventing Congress from abridging state rights, but if the fourth amendment is judged to be a basic human right, then I would imagine the states can do exactly (sharp intake of breath) fuck all to fight it.

Re:State constitutions differ. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925367)

That which is forbidden by the constitution and/or statutes of one state may be permitted in another. Whether or not this is permitted by the US Constitution must be decided by a Federal court.

Sort of.

Every state is beholden to the civil protections of the US Constitution -- no state may allow transgression of rights enumerated there. So there are commonalities to the state laws, and definitely for the rights of people in the states. Think of the US Constitution as defining the baseline for what people's rights are; this is the intersection of the sets of protections all states proffer.

Also please note that the states' judiciaries can and do rule on constitutionality of items, as applicable in their state; appeals can go to the US Circuit Courts (or higher).

Personally, I would have ruled for the state (2)

sirwired (27582) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925323)

If following somebody in an unmarked car without a warrant is legal (and it is), I'm not sure why an electronic device that accomplishes the same thing through satellite tracking would not be.

SirWired

Re:Personally, I would have ruled for the state (4, Insightful)

tilandal (1004811) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925429)

If having a plant listen to a phone conversation is legal (and it is), I'm not sure why doing the same thing through a switch-box would not be.

Re:Personally, I would have ruled for the state (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27925449)

The police officer following you does not damage your private property, aka your car. He also does not follow you onto your private property, your land. In addition this reduces the burden on the police involved in tracking suspects to the point were without the need for a warrant they could just place a tracking device on every car in their jurisdiction.

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