Your tax dollars at work (4th amendment edition!)

by wfgodbold

I was curious about the genesis of the newest SCOTUS decision to come down the pipe, and you’ll be interested (leave me my delusions!) to know what I learned.

In the original case, U.S. v. Jones, Jones (who generally appears to be a misanthrope (not that that makes any difference to his civil rights)) moved to suppress evidence gathered when the police put a tracking device on his car and used it to see where he was going:

Jones also has moved to suppress the data obtained from an electronic tracking device-a Global Positioning System (“GPS”)-which law enforcement agents placed on his Jeep Cherokee pursuant to an Order issued by the Honorable Paul L. Friedman on September 16, 2005. In support of the motion, Jones advances two arguments. First, he contends that Special Agent Yanta’s affidavit in support of the application for GPS authorization lacked probable cause to believe that his vehicle “was in any manner being used for criminal activity.” (Def.’s Omnibus Mot. at 18.) Second, Jones asserts that the government placed the GPS device on his vehicle both after the Order authorizing its *88 placement had expired and while the vehicle was located outside of the issuing court’s jurisdiction. (See Defendant Jones’ Supplemental Omnibus Pre-Trial Motion at 3-6.) In response, while conceding the “technical” violations of the September 10, 2005 Order (Gov’t’s Omnibus Opp’n at 52 n. 12), the government contends that the placement of the GPS device was proper-“even in the complete absence of a court order”-because Jones lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle. (Id. at 51.)

U.S. v. Jones, 451 F. Supp. 2d 71, 87-88 (D.D.C. 2006) aff’d in part, rev’d in part sub nom.U.S. v. Maynard, 615 F.3d 544 (D.C. Cir. 2010) aff’d in part sub nom.U.S. v. Jones, 10-1259, 2012 WL 171117 (U.S. 2012) [emphasis added]
So this whole case came about because the DC cops let their warrant expire and then bugged the guy’s car while it was outside their jurisdiction. After they got caught, they argued that they didn’t really need a warrant in the first place.
The case was then appealed, granted certiorari, and finally heard by the Supreme Court.
Almost five and a half years after the end of Jones’s original trial (which itself was for actions the defendant took between 2003 and October 2004).
And all because the police tried to fast-talk their way out of something they knew wasn’t going to work.
Sure, the police might screw you over, but unless you can afford to pay your lawyer for the better part of a decade, you’re not going to prevail.
And the government? They don’t care if they can’t afford their own appeals; after all, you’re the one footing their bill.
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