Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ankle Bracelets

In US v. Jones, way back in 2012, SCOTUS made a small step away from Luddite-land and toward some basic technological awareness. Jones  held that police tracking a police-installed GPS on a defendant's car was, in fact, a Fourth Amendment search.

Image result for image GPS ankle bracelet
Orwellian Fashion
On the same trajectory, in Grady v. North Carolinaper curiumthe Court held that "a State also conducts a search when it attaches a device to a person's body, without consent, for the purpose of tracking an individual's movement." That person, Torrey Dale Grady, was ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet because he is a recidivist sex offender. He argued this was a Fourth Amendment violation.

The state courts were rather dismissive of his complaint. In turn, the Supreme Court was rather critical of North Carolina's dismissive attitude toward the Fourth Amendment. The state was inattentive to criminal law, and analyzed this claim as civil matter beyond the reach of the Fourth Amendment. But the Supremes would have none of that: "The State’s program is plainly designed to obtain information. And since it does so by physically intruding on a subject’s body, it effects a Fourth Amendment search."

The Court stops there, though, and remands to North Carolina to determine whether the statutory monitoring system -- the court-ordered GPS bracelet -- was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

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