Northern District of Georgia Again Invokes Good Faith Exception on Tower Dump Case

In this case, the District Court reviewed a Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation denying a Motion to Suppress of data retrieved from a cell tower dump.

The holding of the Court is not altogether clear. This is complicated by the fact that this was the Defendant’s second motion to suppress which was filed out of time. The original motion to suppress was denied based on the good faith exception, citing the 11th Circuit case of United States v. Joyner 899 F.3d 1199, 1205 (11th Cir. 2018) (See May 16 post on this blog).

In the Court’s previous decision, the Court did not decide whether a cell tower dump data review is a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Court does seem to do so here either. After a change of counsel, the Defendant argued that the Stored Communications Act did not authorize a cell tower dump, and, because of that, the Government did not act in good faith.

The Court held that the Stored Communications Act authorizes cell tower dumps, citing In re Application of the United States of America, 42 F. Supp. 3d 511, 513 (S.D.N.Y. 2014) . The Court also held that even if using the Stored Communications Act was error, law enforcement could reasonably rely on the Act, citing, United States v. Warshak, 631 F.3d 266, 289-90 (6th Cir. 2010).

The case is United States v. Pendergrass, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51362, 2019 WL 1376745, N.D. GA (March 27, 2019).

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