United States v. Jones (2012)
|United States v. Antoine Jones|
|Argued November 8, 2011
Decided January 23, 2012
|Full case name||United States v. Antoine Jones|
|Citations||565 U.S. (more)
132 S. Ct. 945, 565 US __, 181 L. Ed. 2d 911
|Prior history||Motion to suppress evidence rejection, 451 F.Supp.2d 71 (D.D.C. 2006); motion for reconsideration denied, 511 F.Supp.2d 74 (D.D.C. 2007); reversed sub nom. United States v. Maynard, 615 F.3d 544 (D.C. Cir. 2010); rehearing en banc denied, 625 F.3d 766 (2010); certiorari granted, 564 U.S. ___ (2011)|
|The Government's attachment of the GPS device to the vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. DC Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.|
|Majority||Scalia, joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Sotomayor|
|Concurrence||Alito, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan|
|U.S. Const. amend. IV|
United States v. Jones, 565 US ___, 132 S.Ct. 945 (2012), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that installing a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device on a vehicle and using the device to monitor the vehicle's movements constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.
In 2005 defendant Antoine Jones was suspected of drug trafficking. Police investigators asked for and received a warrant to attach a GPS tracking device to the underside of the defendant's car but then exceeded the warrant's scope in both geography and length of time. The Supreme Court justices voted unanimously that this violated the Fourth Amendment, though they were split on the reasoning. The majority held that by installing the GPS device on the defendants car the police had committed a trespass on private property and that the trespass constituted an unreasonable search per se.
Police investigation and criminal trial
Antoine Jones owned a nightclub in the District of Columbia; Lawrence Maynard managed the club. In 2004, a joint Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Metropolitan Police Department task force began investigating Jones and Maynard for narcotics violations. During the course of the investigation, a Global Positioning System (GPS) device was installed on Jones's Jeep Grand Cherokee without a valid warrant. This device tracked his movements 24 hours a day for four weeks. The FBI arrested Jones in late 2005, at which time Jones was represented by criminal defense attorney A. Eduardo Balarezo of Washington, D.C. Balarezo filed multiple motions on Jones' behalf, including the motion to suppress the GPS data. This motion formed the basis for Jones' appeals. The government tried Jones for the first time in late 2006, and after a trial lasting over a month, a federal jury deadlocked on the conspiracy charge and acquitted him of multiple other counts. The government retried Jones in late 2007, and in January 2008 the jury returned a guilty verdict on one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and 50 or more grams of cocaine base. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Jones argued that his conviction should be overturned because the use of the GPS tracker violated the Fourth Amendment's unreasonable search and seizure clause. In August 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned Jones's conviction, holding that the police action was a search because it violated Jones's reasonable expectation of privacy. The court's decision was the subject of significant legal debate. In June 2011, the Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari to resolve two questions. The first question, briefed by the parties in their initial petition for certiorari was "Whether the warrantless use of a tracking device on respondent's vehicle to monitor its movements on public streets violated the Fourth Amendment." The second question, which the Court directed the parties to brief in addition to the initial question, was "Whether the government violated respondent's Fourth Amendment rights by installing the GPS tracking device on his vehicle without a valid warrant and without his consent"
Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreeben began his argument for the United States by noting that information revealed to the world (i.e. movement on a public road) is not protected by the Fourth Amendment. Dreeben cited United States v. Knotts as an example where police were allowed to use a device known as a "beeper" that allows the tracking of a car from a short distance away. Chief Justice Roberts distinguished the current case from Knotts, saying that using a beeper still took "a lot of work" whereas a GPS device allows the police to "sit back in the station ... and push a button whenever they want to find out where the car is."
Justice Scalia then redirected the discussion to whether installing the device was an unreasonable search and seizure. Scalia argued that "when that device is installed against the will of the owner of the car on the car, that is unquestionably a trespass and thereby rendering the owner of the car not secure in his effects... against an unreasonable search and seizure." Dreeben argued that it was a trespass, but in United States v. Karo there was also a trespass and, according to Dreeben, the Court held that it "made no difference because the purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to protect privacy interests and meaningful interference [with possessions], not to cover all technical trespasses."
During oral arguments, Justice Alito stated that people's use of technology is changing what the expectation of privacy is for the courts. "You know, I don't know what society expects and I think it's changing. Technology is changing people's expectations of privacy. Suppose we look forward 10 years, and maybe 10 years from now 90 percent of the population will be using social networking sites and they will have on average 500 friends and they will have allowed their friends to monitor their location 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, through the use of their cell phones. Then — what would the expectation of privacy be then?"
Opinion of the Court
On January 23, 2012, the Supreme Court held that "the Government's installation of a GPS device on a target's vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a 'search'" under the Fourth Amendment. Some news sources have interpreted the Court as holding that the police actions were unconstitutional when "not obtaining an extended search warrant before attaching a tracking device to a drug suspect's car", though Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog has noted that while the majority held that the installation of a GPS device followed by its tracking was a Fourth Amendment search, it declined to say whether that search was unreasonable and required a warrant. The justices split 5-4 on the reasoning and the breadth of the judgment.
Justice Antonin Scalia authored the majority opinion. He cited a line of cases dating back as far as 1886 when arguing that trespass or physical intrusion of private property has been considered as the basis of determining whether a "search" had occurred under the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Scalia conceded that following Katz v. United States, where electronic eavesdropping in a public telephone booth was ruled to be a search, the determination deviated from the property based approach and was instead based on violation of a person's "reasonable expectation of privacy". However, he also cited numerous post-Katz cases to argue that reliance on trespass to determine whether the Fourth Amendment was violated had not been abandoned.United States v Jones (Opinion) Majority pp. 5-7.</ref> In response to Alito's concurrence's criticisms, Scalia emphasized that the Fourth Amendment must provide at a minimum the level of protection as when it was adopted. Furthermore, consideration of trespass does not exclude consideration of expectation of privacy. The latter is to be considered when determining if a search occurred in a situation where there was no governmental trespass. Since government's installation of a GPS device unto defendant's car was trespass, consideration of the reasonable expectation of privacy in all of his movements was not necessary.
While the court held that the installation of a GPS tracking device was a Fourth Amendment search, the majority of the court declined to say whether that search was unreasonable and required a warrant.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito argued against the majority's reliance on trespass under modern circumstances. Specifically, he argued that the common-law property-based analysis of a "search" under the Fourth Amendment did not apply to such electronic situations as the one that occurred in this case.United States v Jones (Opinion) Alito's concurrence, pp. 2-3.</ref> He further argued that following the doctrinal changes in Katz, a technical trespass leading to the gathering of evidence was "neither necessary nor sufficient to establish a constitutional violation".
Following the privacy-based approach most commonly used post-Katz, the four-justice minority are of the opinion that the continuous monitoring of every single movement of an individual's car for 28 days violated a "reasonable expectation of privacy", and thus constituted a search. Alito explained that before GPS and similar electronic technology, monthlong surveillance of an individual's every move would have been exceptionally demanding and costly, requiring a tremendous amount of resources and people. As a result, society's expectations were, and still are, that such complete and long-term surveillance would not be undertaken, and that an individual would not think it could occur to him or her.
With regard to continuous monitoring for a short period, the minority would rely on United States v. Knotts (1983) and decline to find a violation of the expectation of privacy. In Knotts, a short-distance signal beeper in the defendant's car was tracked during a single trip for less than a day. The Court ruled that a person traveling on public roads has no expectation of privacy in his movements, because the vehicle's starting point, direction, stops, or final destination could be seen by anyone else on the road.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was alone in her concurring opinion. She was the fifth justice to concur with Scalia's opinion, making it decisive. "As the majority's opinion makes clear", she noted, "Katz's reasonable-expectation-of-privacy test augmented, but did not displace or diminish, the common-law trespassory test that preceded it". However, even though Sotomayor did not sign Alito's opinion, she made it apparent that she agreed with his expectation of privacy reasoning regarding long-term surveillance. She went even further, and questioned the constitutionality of short term GPS surveillance. For example, even during short-term monitoring, cellphone-based GPS technology can allow tracking of every movement of an individual and hence reveal completely private destinations like psychiatrist or plastic surgeon. She distinguished Knotts, reminding that Knotts itself stated that a different principle may apply in situations where for 24 hours, every movement is completely monitored.
Walter E. Dellinger III, the former U.S. Solicitor General and the attorney who represented the defendant, said the decision was "a signal event in Fourth Amendment history". He also said the decision made it more risky for law enforcement to use a GPS tracking device without a warrant. FBI director Robert Mueller testified in March 2013 that the Jones decision had limited the Bureau's surveillance capabilities.
Criminal defense attorneys and civil libertarians such as Virginia Sloan of the Constitution Project praised the ruling for protecting Fourth Amendment rights against government intrusion through modern technology. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed an amicus brief arguing that warrantless GPS tracking violates reasonable expectations of privacy, praised Sotomayor's concurrence for raising concerns that Fourth Amendment caselaw does not reflect the realities of modern technology.
The Supreme Court remanded the case to the district court. During the investigation, the government obtained cell site location data with a 2703(d) order under the Stored Communications Act. In light of the Supreme Court's decision, the government sought to use this data instead of the GPS data it had collected. Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ruled in December 2012 that the government could use the cell site data against Jones. A new trial began in January 2013 after Mr Jones rejected 2 plea offers of 15 to 22 years with credit for time served. In March 2013, a mistrial was declared with the jury evenly split. Mr Jones had represented himself at trial. The Government planned for a fourth trial but in May 2013 Jones accepted a plea bargain of 15 years with credit for time served.
In October 2013, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in US v. Katzin that law enforcement must have a warrant to use a GPS tracking device. It was the first appeals court ruling in the wake of Jones, in which the Supreme Court declined to rule whether a warrant was required.
- Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act
- Kyllo v. United States
- United States v. Graham
- Florida v. Jardines
- United States v. Maynard, Opinion p. 16 "Jones owned and Maynard managed the "Levels" nightclub in the District of Columbia. In 2004 an FBI Metropolitan Police Department Safe Streets Task Force began investigating the two for narcotics violations."
- Bravin, Jess, "Justices Rein In Police on GPS Trackers", The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
- United States v. Maynard, Opinion p. 38, "The police had obtained a warrant to install the GPS device in D.C. only, but it had expired before they installed it — which they did in Maryland."
- United States v. Maynard, Opinion p. 3, "...tracking [Jones's] movements 24 hours a day for four weeks with a GPS device [the police] had installed on his Jeep..."
- United States v. Maynard, Opinion p. 4, " the Government filed another superseding indictment charging Jones, Maynard, and a few co-defendants with a single count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and 50 or more grams of cocaine base. A joint trial of Jones and Maynard began in November 2007 and ended in January 2008, when the jury found them both guilty. "
- United States v. Jones, Petition for a Writ of Certiorari p. 2, "respondent was convicted of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 or more grams of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841 and 846. The district court sentenced respondent to life imprisonment."
- United States v. Maynard, Opinion p. 15-16 "Jones argues his conviction should be overturned because the police violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches by tracking his movements 24 hours a day for four weeks with a GPS device they had installed on his Jeep without a valid warrant."
- United States v. Maynard, Opinion p. 16 "As explained below, we hold Knotts does not govern this case and the police action was a search because it defeated Jones‘s reasonable expectation of privacy."
- Justin P. Webb, Cybercrime Review (November 29, 2012). "Highlighted Paper: Orin Kerr, The Mosaic Theory of the Fourth Amendment".
- Justin P. Webb (December 1, 2011). "Car-ving Out Notions of Privacy: The Impact of GPS Tracking and Why Maynard is a Move in the Right Direction".
- United States v. Jones, Docket, "Jun 27 2011 Petition GRANTED In addition to the question presented by the petition, the parties are directed to brief and argue the following question: Whether the government violated respondent's Fourth Amendment rights by installing the GPS tracking device on his vehicle without a valid warrant and without his consent."
- United States v. Jones (Oral Argument Transcript) p. 1.
- United States v. Jones (Oral Argument Transcript) p. 3.
- United States v. Jones (Oral Argument Transcript) p. 4.
- United States v. Jones (Oral Argument Transcript) p. 7.
- United States v. Jones (Oral Argument Transcript) p. 8.
- United States v. Jones (Oral Argument Transcript) p. 44.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Majority p.3.
- Romm, Tony (23 July 2012). "Supreme Court: GPS location tracking qualifies as search". POLITICO.com. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Liptak, Adam (23 January 2013). "Justices Say GPS Tracker Violated Privacy Rights". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Bill Mears (January 23, 2012). "Justices rule against police, say GPS surveillance requires search warrant". CNN.
- Goldstein, Tom (30 January 2012). "Why Jones is still less of a pro-privacy decision than most thought". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Majority pp. 4-5.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Majority p. 5.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Majority pp. 10-12.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Majority p. 12.
- Kravets, David (23 January 2012). "Supreme Court Court Rejects Willy-Nilly GPS Tracking". Wired.com. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Kerr, Orin (23 January 2012). "What Jones Does Not Hold". The Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Alito's concurrence, p. 6, quoting from United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705, 713 (1984).
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Alito's concurrence, p. 13.
- United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276, 282 (1983).
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Sotomayor's concurrence, p. 1.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Sotomayor's concurrence, p. 2.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Sotomayor's concurrence, p. 3.
- United States v Jones (Opinion) Sotomayor's concurrence, 4*.
- Biskupic, Joan (January 24, 2012). "Supreme Court rules warrant needed for GPS tracking". USA Today. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- Johnson, Carrie (March 21, 2012). "FBI Still Struggling With Supreme Court's GPS Ruling". NPR. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
- "US v. Jones". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- Mike Scarcella (17 December 2012). "Judge Rules for DOJ in Dispute Over Cell Tower Data". Legal Times Blog.
- Zapotosky, Matt (25 January 2013). "Accused drug dealer, representing himself, hears prosecutors open their case". The Washington Post.
- Marimow, Ann (16 January 2013). "Suspected D.C. drug kingpin offered plea deal". The Washington Post.
- Frommer, Frederic (4 March 2013). "Mistrial declared in 3rd trial of drug conspiracy". US News & World Report. Associated Press.
- Marimow, Ann (17 January 2013). "Suspected D.C. drug kingpin to represent himself at retrial". The Washington Post.
- Zapotosky, Matt. "Accused D.C. dealer launches his own defense at trial". The Washington Post.
- Marimow, Ann. "Judge declares mistrial in area drug case". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Judge Declares Mistrial in Drug Case at Center of Landmark Supreme Court Ruling". Legal Times Blog. 4 March 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Antoine Jones pleads guilty, accepts 15 years sentence". WJLA-TV. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- Anderson, Nick (1 May 2013). "Former DC Nightclub owner Antoine Jones sentenced on drug charge.". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- Zetter, Kim (October 22, 2013). "Court Rules Probable-Cause Warrant Required for GPS Trackers". Wired.com. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- Kemp, David S. "The Warrant Requirement for GPS Tracking Devices". Verdict. Justia. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (August 2010). United States v. Maynard (Opinion).
- Department of Justice (2010). United States v. Jones (Petition for Writ of Certiorari).
- Supreme Court of the United States (April 2011). United States v. Jones (Docket).
- Supreme Court of the United States (June 2011). United States v. Jones (Questions Presented).
- Supreme Court of the United States (November 2011). United States v. Jones (Oral Argument Transcript).
- Supreme Court of the United States (January 2012). United States v. Jones (Opinions).
- Arcila, Fabio, Jr. (2012). "GPS Tracking Out of Fourth Amendment Dead Ends: United States v. Jones and the Katz Conundrum". North Carolina Law Review 91 (1): 1–59.
- United States v. Jones: GPS Monitoring, Property, and Privacy Congressional Research Service