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Thursday, October 13, 2011

United States v. Jones | Tim Lynch, Jim Harper and Ilya Shapiro | Cato Institute: Legal Briefs

United States v. Jones Tim Lynch, Jim Harper and Ilya Shapiro Cato Institute: Lega

October 3, 2011
Legal Briefs


United States v. Jones


by Tim Lynch, Jim Harper and Ilya Shapiro



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As technology advances — and law enforcement adapts these advancements to police work — courts will be asked to apply the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in new and varied situations. In 2004, the FBI, as part of a joint task force, suspected Antoine Jones of dealing drugs. To verify their suspicions, agents secured a warrant allowing them to attach a GPS tracking device to Jones's car (but then attached it after the warrant had expired, and in Maryland rather than the warrant's operative jurisdiction of D.C.). The FBI used this device to monitor and record the car's every movement for nearly a month before finally arresting Jones. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the FBI's action was unconstitutional because it violated Jones's "reasonable expectation of privacy" — the two-part Fourth Amendment standard developed in the landmark case of Katz v. United States. The "reasonable expectation of privacy" doctrine holds that if a person has an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy and that expectation is one society is prepared to accept, then the Fourth Amendment protects the object of that expectation. The court found that the long-term round-the-clock GPS surveillance, even of a vehicle always on public roads and in locations readily observable by a cop on the street, was qualitatively different than a temporary stakeout or other conventional surveillance. The government successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case, and the Court added the issue of whether installing the GPS device was itself a Fourth Amendment violation, quite apart from the monitoring. Cato filed a brief supporting Jones and arguing that the Court should take this opportunity to strengthen Fourth Amendment protections by finding unconstitutional the government's continuous and long-term tracking of someone's vehicle without a valid warrant. This case affords the Court an opportunity to revisit the "reasonable expectation of privacy" standard — which has dominated this area of law for over 40 years but is a misinterpretation of Katz that has proven unworkable. Standing alone, the "reasonable expectation" test reverses the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment by putting the onus on citizens to prove the reasonableness of their expectations instead of examining the reasonableness of government action. By measuring the actions an individual takes to shield his information against the reasonableness of the government's actions in piercing that shield, the Court can simplify this area of law from one measuring esoteric "expectations" to one examining a straightforward factual question. Moreover, the government's conversion of Jones's property — his car — into a surveillance device acted as an unreasonable seizure for Fourth Amendment purposes because it deprived Jones of a valuable property right, the right to exclude others from his property. Similarly, using his car then to collect information and track Jones then became an unreasonable search. Thus, even if the Court continues to adhere to the "reasonable expectations of privacy" test, it should recognize the sanctity of Jones's property and find the warrantless GPS-attachment and -surveillance unconstitutional.




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Thursday, October 6, 2011

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

United States v. Jones | Jim Harper, Ilya Shapiro and Tim Lynch | Cato Institute: Legal Briefs

United States v. Jones Jim Harper, Ilya Shapiro and Tim Lynch Cato Institute: Legal Briefs


October 3, 2011
Legal Briefs


United States v. Jones


by Jim Harper, Ilya Shapiro and Tim Lynch





Sans Serif

Serif


Share with your friends:

ShareThis


As technology advances — and law enforcement adapts these advancements to police work — courts will be asked to apply the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in new and varied situations. In 2004, the FBI, as part of a joint task force, suspected Antoine Jones of dealing drugs. To verify their suspicions, agents secured a warrant allowing them to attach a GPS tracking device to Jones's car (but then attached it after the warrant had expired, and in Maryland rather than the warrant's operative jurisdiction of D.C.). The FBI used this device to monitor and record the car's every movement for nearly a month before finally arresting Jones. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the FBI's action was unconstitutional because it violated Jones's "reasonable expectation of privacy" — the two-part Fourth Amendment standard developed in the landmark case of Katz v. United States. The "reasonable expectation of privacy" doctrine holds that if a person has an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy and that expectation is one society is prepared to accept, then the Fourth Amendment protects the object of that expectation. The court found that the long-term round-the-clock GPS surveillance, even of a vehicle always on public roads and in locations readily observable by a cop on the street, was qualitatively different than a temporary stakeout or other conventional surveillance. The government successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case, and the Court added the issue of whether installing the GPS device was itself a Fourth Amendment violation, quite apart from the monitoring. Cato filed a brief supporting Jones and arguing that the Court should take this opportunity to strengthen Fourth Amendment protections by finding unconstitutional the government's continuous and long-term tracking of someone's vehicle without a valid warrant. This case affords the Court an opportunity to revisit the "reasonable expectation of privacy" standard — which has dominated this area of law for over 40 years but is a misinterpretation of Katz that has proven unworkable. Standing alone, the "reasonable expectation" test reverses the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment by putting the onus on citizens to prove the reasonableness of their expectations instead of examining the reasonableness of government action. By measuring the actions an individual takes to shield his information against the reasonableness of the government's actions in piercing that shield, the Court can simplify this area of law from one measuring esoteric "expectations" to one examining a straightforward factual question. Moreover, the government's conversion of Jones's property — his car — into a surveillance device acted as an unreasonable seizure for Fourth Amendment purposes because it deprived Jones of a valuable property right, the right to exclude others from his property. Similarly, using his car then to collect information and track Jones then became an unreasonable search. Thus, even if the Court continues to adhere to the "reasonable expectations of privacy" test, it should recognize the sanctity of Jones's property and find the warrantless GPS-attachment and -surveillance unconstitutional.



Friday, April 22, 2011

No. 10–2896. - LAASE v. COUNTY OF ISANTI - US 8th Circuit

No. 10–2896. - LAASE v. COUNTY



LAASE v. COUNTY OF ISANTI




David L. LAASE, Appellant, v. COUNTY OF ISANTI; Jeffrey R. Edblad, Isanti County Attorney, in his official capacity; City of Cambridge, Minnesota; David Pajnic, Chief of Police, Cambridge, Minnesota, in his official capacity, Appellees.



No. 10–2896.


-- April 20, 2011

Before WOLLMAN, MURPHY, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.


After David Laase's Minnesota state-court challenge to the forfeiture of his vehicle failed, he brought a lawsuit in federal district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that the forfeiture of his vehicle violated the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. The district court

1

concluded that, as a matter of Minnesota law, Laase's suit was res judicata and dismissed the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. For reasons that follow, we affirm.


Under Minnesota's statutory forfeiture scheme, a vehicle is subject to forfeiture “if it was used in the commission of a designated offense,” Minn.Stat. § 169A.63(6)(a), and “[a]ll right, title, and interest in a vehicle subject to forfeiture ․ vests in the appropriate agency upon commission of the conduct resulting in the designated offense,” § 169A.63(3). However, upon seizure, the state agency must “serve the driver or operator of the vehicle with a notice of the seizure and intent to forfeit the vehicle,” § 169A.63(8)(b), and the vehicle's owner may “file a demand for a judicial determination of the forfeiture,” § 169A.63(8)(d). The state agency is permitted to file an answer to this demand, “including an affirmative counterclaim for forfeiture,” § 169A.63(9)(c), but whether or not it does so, “[t]here is a presumption that a vehicle seized ․ is subject to forfeiture if the prosecuting authority establishes that the vehicle was used in the commission of a designated offense,” § 169A .63(9)(e). The owner may raise a number of affirmative defenses to forfeiture, but she “bears the burden of proving any affirmative defense raised.” Id.


In 2006, David Laase's wife was convicted of second-degree driving while impaired, see Minn.Stat. §§ 169A.20(2), 169A.25(1)(b), a designated offense under section 169A.63(1)(e). The County of Isanti, Minnesota, seized the Laases' 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, and David Laase filed a demand for judicial determination, raising multiple affirmative defenses, including the “innocent owner” defense and a claim that the forfeiture statute is unconstitutional because “it violates the double jeopardy provisions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.” Laase also asserted the unspecified affirmative defense that “the forfeiture statute ․ is unconstitutional, both on its face and applied.”

2

The Minnesota district court ruled for Laase based on the innocent owner defense, concluding that Laase “did not actually or constructively know that his wife was going to use the vehicle in a manner contrary to the law.” Laase v.2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, No. CV–06–383, slip op. at 1 (10th Jud. Dist. Minn. June 19, 2007); see § 169A.63(7)(d). The court did not address his constitutional claims.


The County appealed, and the Minnesota Court OF ISANTI - US 8th Circuit