U.S. Dist. Ct. for E.D. Michigan invokes good faith exception to defeat Carpenter claim

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan denied a motion to suppress of CSLI where the Government relied on the Stored Communications Act (18 U.S.C. § 2703(d)).

The District Court first found that Carpenter created new law where, going forward, investigators will need a warrant supported by probable cause. The District Court specifically found that the “Government had objective good faith belief that its conduct under the Act was lawful.

In a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Discharge of a Firearm in furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense prosecution, the Government intends to use CSLI to establish that the Defendant was in the vicinity of two shootings.

The Court held that there is no dispute that the rule in Carpenter is retroactive and the Government’s actions violated the 4th Amendment under this new rule. The Court accepted the Government’s argument not to apply the exclusionary rule because of good faith.

The Court decided, invoking the Sixth Circuit case of United States v. Pembrook, 876 F.3d 812, 823 (2017) that since there is no controlling authority, it can’t be clearly established that the warrantless acquisition of CSLI is a Fourth Amendment violation.

(See also, United States v. Scott, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113218 (July 9), and United States v. Chavez, 894 F.3d 593 (4th Cir. 2018). both previously featured on this blog, invoking the same reasoning). This reasoning is still as problematic to me as when I originally posted the Scott decision on August 28 as Pembrook seems to be an unwarranted extension of the good faith doctrine.

The case is United States v. Williams, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129639, 2018 WL 3659585 (E. D. Mich.) (Aug. 2)

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