1st Circuit GPS Tracking Cases

Law.com and the National Law Journal had an article this morning about the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sandra Lynch, with senior judges Kermit Lipez and Norman Stahl, hearing arguments in two unrelated warrantless tracking cases,U.S. v. Báez and U.S. v. Oladosu, yesterday.

The article related the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Jones ruling that held such GPS uses were Fourth Amendment searches, “left open the question of whether such searches were unreasonable or require a warrant. A combined March ruling from the First Circuit on the issue in U.S. v. Sparks and U.S. v. Michaud also left unanswered questions for the circuit -- the Sparks court allowing the evidence but not decide whether the FBI's use of the GPS was a Fourth Amendment ‘search’ that required a warrant.”

It also noted that “in October, the Third Circuit ruled in U.S. v. Katzin that police need a warrant for GPS tracking.”

“In the first case, José Báez appealed his December 2012 conviction for four counts of arson based on evidence from the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau’s use of a GPS for 347 days,” the article summarized. “After his conditional guilty plea, District of Massachusetts Judge Douglas Woodlock sentenced him to 15 years in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $3.2 million in restitution.” [District Court's case]

In the second case, “Abdulfatah Oladosu challenged District of Rhode Island Judge William E. Smith’s August 2012 denial of his motion to suppress the GPS evidence. Following his conditional guilty plea for two heroin crimes, Oladosu was sentenced to three years and 11 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Oladosu’s attorney argued that the 47 days of surveillance, or 4 times more than Sparks, raised constitutional questions concerning the reasonable expectation of privacy.” [District Court's case ]