WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The issue of Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking using a device attached to a vehicle first began arising in the country in 2008. While the attachment and tracking law has matured over the last four years, there are other GPS tracking issues concerning Fourth Amendment rights that are still unresolved and being challenged in courtrooms across the country.
Four years ago, there was little law about GPS tracking regarding potential violations of Fourth Amendment rights until the case of United States vs. Jones appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, with a decision rendered early this year. The court held that the government's placement of a GPS device on the bumper of a vehicle constituted an unconstitutional search.
During the time the court was deciding on this issue, Newsmaker panelist and Alexandria, Virginia attorney Chris Leibig was working as a defense attorney for a client who had been suspected of being a sexual predator, thus giving probable cause to law enforcement to track him using a GPS device attached to his van.
Leibig argued to have the evidence collected in this manner suppressed as illegal, but his client was found guilty and sentenced to life. Leibig appealed.
It was during this appeal period in Leibig's case that the Supreme Court ruled in the Jones case. At oral argument, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. mentioned that the tracking issue was more important because the attachment issue does not cover situations where people are tracked without a trespass. Examples of this are cell phones, or soon enough, satellites that can track a person without physically trespassing on anything.
This issue has not been resolved by the Supreme Court and will be the focus of much of the Newsmaker discussion.
In Leibig's case, the original guilty ruling for his client was upheld because of "harmless error" --- the judge ruled there was enough evidence without the three hours of GPS surveillance documentation to convict his client.
Appearing with Leibig at the Newsmaker will be attorney Steve Shannon, a former Fairfax County prosecutor who teaches criminal law at George Mason School of Law and served in the Virginia General Assembly.
SOURCE National Press Club