2nd Circuit reverses suppression of GPS data by Judge Weinstein (NY)

What a judge rarely giveth, another judge(s) taketh away.

Here, the Government appealed to the Second Circuit after Judge Jack Weinstein of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted defense motions to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to ourt-authorized wiretaps to suppress location data which pinpointed the presence of one defendant that was obtained from a GPS tracking device attached to his ankle by his parole officers.

Judge Weinstein had ruled that Government agents had knowingly withheld from and misrepresented critical information to, the authorizing judge. Judge Weinstein also suppressed the location data ruling that the defendant’s expectations of privacy were infringed. Judge Weinstein’s reasoning was that the device was used for a two-year period, without a warrant, not for purposes of State parole supervision but only for the collection of evidence for prosecution.

Regarding the suppression of GPS data, the Government argued that the GPS monitoring was permissible because it was reasonably related to his parole officers’ duties and that the defendant little expectation of privacy being on parole. They also argued that suppression was inappropriate under the good-faith doctrine of Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229, 131 S. Ct. 2419, 180 L. Ed. 2d 285 (2011).

This was a narcotics trafficking investigation that began with the defendant’s release from prison on parole. The Second Circuit held that the GPS monitoring of the defendant throughout the investigation had a reasonable and rational relationship to the responsibilities as a State parole officer. They also held that the defendant had no reasonable or legitimate expectation of privacy due to his status as a parolee that knew he was subject to being monitored.

The case is United States v. Lambus, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20647, 897 F.3d 368 (2nd Cir.) (July 25).

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