GPS Evidence Survives 9th Circuit Ruling


     (CN) – The 9th Circuit on Monday refused to suppress evidence gleaned from GPS tracking devices, saying the Supreme Court had not deemed such searches unconstitutional when the devices were placed on a suspect’s Jeep.



     On remand from the Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit once again rejected Juan Pineda-Moreno’s motion to suppress the evidence from GPS tracking devices placed under his Jeep in 2007.
     Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration tracked his car after suspecting him of growing marijuana. They used the tracking information to stop Pineda-Moreno and take him into custody for immigration violations.
     Two large garbage bags of marijuana were later found at his home. Pineda-Moreno was sentenced to 51 months in prison and five years of probation.
     He argued that evidence from the tracking devices should be suppressed, because the warrantless search violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
     After the 9th Circuit refused to suppress the evidence, the Supreme Court ruled on a similar case.
     In Jones v. U.S., the justices said police need a warrant to use GPS to track a suspect. They vacated the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded for similar treatment.
     But the three-judge panel in Portland, Ore., did not reverse its earlier ruling. Instead, it held that the agents “acted in objectively reasonable reliance on binding precedent when they attached and used the tracking devices.”
     Because Jones had not been decided when the searches occurred, the agents’ actions were constitutional at the time, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain ruled.
     “[S]uppression is not warranted here because the agents objectively relied on then-binding precedent when they approached Pineda-Moreno’s Jeep in public areas, attached tracking devices to it, and used those devices to monitor the Jeep’s movements,” O’Scannlain wrote.

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