Can prosecutors attach a Global Positioning System device to a criminal suspect’s car without a warrant in order to track his movements for weeks or even months?
The D.C. Circuit answered this very 21st-century criminal procedure question last August with a resounding “no.” An ideologically diverse panel composed of Judges Douglas Ginsburg, David Tatel, and Thomas Griffith unanimously ruled that this kind of round-the-clock surveillance requires prosecutors first to go to a judge and get a warrant based on probable cause.
The court found that the act of attaching the GPS device to a suspect’s vehicle is a “search” that requires a warrant under the Fourth Amendment because this type of surveillance is so pervasive and invasive that no one would have a reasonable expectation that it would occur.
Sunday, March 20, 2011