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Search and Seizure — GPS devices — exclusionary rule

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Search and Seizure — GPS devices — exclusionary rule

The exclusionary rule does not apply to GPS searches prior to the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in U.S. v. Jones (2012).

“Jones did not hold—though five Justices suggested in concurring opinions—that monitoring a car’s location for an extended time is a search even if the car’s owner consents to installation of the GPS unit, so that no property rights have been invaded. 132 S. Ct. at 954–57 (Sotomayor, J., concurring), 957–64 (Alito, J., concurring, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer & Kagan, JJ.). An extension of Jones along the concurring opinions’ lines is essential to Brown’s position, since this GPS unit was installed without a trespass. A Jeep’s owner decided to cooperate with the police in their investigation of his confederates and authorized the attachment of a tracker. The police thought that this step is as permissible as asking their informant to wear a concealed recording or broadcasting device; Brown, by contrast, maintains that monitoring a GPS locator requires probable cause and a warrant even if monitoring an informant’s wire does not. We bypass that question, as well as other issues such as whether a person using someone else’s car (or that person’s co-conspirator) can protest the use of evidence derived from a device that shows no more than the car’s location. No matter how these substantive issues come out, it would be inappropriate to use the exclusionary rule to suppress evidence derived from this GPS locator before the Supreme Court’s decision in Jones. Until then, precedent would have led reasonable officers to believe that using GPS to track a car’s location was not a search.”


11-1565 U.S. v. Brown

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Clevert, J., Easterbrook, J.

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