United States Vs Jones Essay

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United States v. Jones

Issues before the Court

Is attaching a GPS tracker to a motor vehicle, and subsequently employing it for tracking its movement on public roads, counted as a search-and-seizure operation under Amendment IV? (United States v. Jones | Case Brief Summary)

Facts of the Case

Nightclub owner and manager Jones, the defendant in the case, was suspected of trafficking narcotic drugs. From information collected using a number of investigation methods, law enforcement officials were able to procure a warrant which authorized attaching a GPS tracker to Jones' wife's Jeep (which was never driven by anyone but Jones). However, the law enforcers didn't adhere to the deadline stipulated in the warrant and attached the tracker after the deadline lapsed, employing it for tracking the Jeep's movements (United States v. Jones | Case Brief Summary). The satellite-guided tracker established the Jeep's whereabouts within 50-100 feet, conveying it to a governmental computer via cell phone and transmitting over two thousand pages of information in four weeks. Eventually, the government was able to obtain a charge against Jones including cocaine supply conspiracy charges. Jones made a pre-trial move to suppress evidential data, which was partially suppressed by the trial court; that is, only information procured when the Jeep remained parked at the Jones's garage at home was suppressed at trial. The first trial ended in a deadlocked jury, but the subsequent trial lead to a conviction. The District of Columbia Circuit Court (appellate court) reversed the sentence, claiming that Jones's Amendment IV rights were violated by allowing evidence procured from warrantless utilization of a tracker.

Court Decision

It was acknowledged that installing and utilizing a tracker for following the Jeep's movement was, indeed, a search operation (United States v. Jones | Case Brief Summary).

Rationale of the Court

According to Justice Scalia, physical governmental intrusion on the defendant's personal effect was definitely a search under Amendment IV definitions. Traditionally, the Amendment chiefly stressed governmental trespass on citizens' private property to procure information or find incriminating articles. Katz's standard of fair expectations of privacy furthered, rather than repudiated, that understanding (United States v. Jones | Case Brief Summary). Only Katz applies here, and not Karo and Knotts. The latter cases are different, as the beeper wasn't attached to any piece of property already in the defendant's possession. In Katz, physical law enforcement encroachment on protected territory for garnering information is evident. Alito, Breyer, Kagan and Ginsburg were of the same mind and did not agree to the majority opinion that technical trespass leading to evidence is a search activity. They maintained that Katz standards ought to have been applied to this case. According to Alito, GPS technology, being relatively inexpensive and easy, surmounts conventional practical limitations on close monitoring. He, thus, ruled that tracker utilization in the given case was a violation of societal expectations that law enforcers wouldn't and couldn't track a person's (or automobile's) every move for four weeks. Although fairly short-term public tracking….....

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"EPIC - United States v. Jones."EPIC - Electronic Privacy Information Center.Web. 25 Feb 2017. http://epic.org/amicus/jones/

"United States v. Jones | Case Brief Summary."Case Brief Summary | Free Case Briefs.2013. Web. 25 Feb 2017. http://www.casebriefsummary.com/united-states-v-jones/

"United States v. Jones: 565 U.S. ___ (2012): Justia U.S. Supreme Court Center." Justia U.S. Supreme Court Center.Web. 25 Feb 2017. http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/565/10-1259/

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