U.S. District Court for Southern Dist. of Indiana invokes good faith exception despite any controlling 7th Circuit precedent

In this controlled substance and money laundering case, law enforcement obtained cell site location records for which some of the defendants moved to suppress the cell site location information based upon the absence of a warrant.

In denying the motion, the District Court invoked the good faith exception despite the fact that the Seventh Circuit had never previously ruled that such use of the Stored Communications Act was constitutional prior to Carpenter.

The District Court noted that the that in 2014 the court indicated in dicta that it had “not found any federal appellate decision accepting [the] premise that obtaining cell-site data from telecommunications companies . . . raises a concern under the Fourth Amendment,” citing United States v. Thousand, 558 Fed. Appx. 666, 670 (7th Cir. 2014). The Government also cited to a 2015 case from the Northern District of Illinois, wherein the court determined obtaining cellular site evidence under the Stored Communications Act was permissible. See United States v. Lang, 78 F. Supp. 3d 830, 833-36 (N.D. Ill. 2015).

The Government pushed for admission of the evidence pursuant to the good faith exception, citing Illinois v. Krull, 480 U.S. 340, 349-53, 107 S. Ct. 1160, 94 L. Ed. 2d 364 (1987), even though Krull involved a case where the U.S. Supreme Court changed the case law in a particular area where at the time of the search, the search was still legal under established precedent. The Government also argued that the Stored Communication Act application would have supported a finding of probable cause.

The District Court ruled in favor of the Government, relying on United States v. Leon, never addressing the fact that in the 7th Circuit there was no established precedent stating that this warrantless search was permissible.

The case is United States v. Rojas-Reyes, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118808, 2018 WL 3439092 (Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division) (July 17)

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