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High court orders review of sex offender GPS monitoring

WASHINGTON — State programs that use GPS systems to monitor sex offenders could eventually be jeopardized based on a preliminary Supreme Court ruling Monday.

The justices gave a North Carolina sex offender another chance to prove in state court that being forced to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet for life could be unconstitutional. Full Article


Los Angeles Times

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  1. Anonymous Nobody

    I just saw that at the LA Ties website.

    This is good. Not nearly enough, but good. They say you can’t simply have a blanket policy (or law) to monitor all or a category of sex offenders with GPS devices. They say that GPS monitoring would come under the 4th Amendment as a search, so requires search-warrant-level justification for the monitoring.

    They left it open to use the GPS on a case by case basis. And I believe they are saying lifetime is never justified.

    And an idea in extrapolating: Its not the wearing of the device that is the issue; it is the tracking of the people that is the issue. Consider, sex offender registration, according to the courts and the law itself, is to provide for “surveillance” of the registrant. That is the term the courts use, and I believe that term has now been added to 290. But SCOTUS just ruled that surveillance, or watching, with a GPS device is unconstitutional without a warrant. Is non-GPS surveillance so different that they can surveil, and require you to cooperate with it by giving information in the first place? Again, the SCOTUS issue is not the device, but the surveillance it is used for, the search the constitutes.

    I’m afraid the court will split hairs and say that it is OK to surveil without a warrant as long as you do not do it efficiently.

  2. Eric Knight

    My theory on whether the United States Supreme Court accepts cases on the expectation of ruling AGAINST the RSO will come to light here. My contention is that Chief Justice John Roberts is doing his best to deny cert to sex offender related cases UNLESS he knows the court, based upon its current makeup, will rule against the RSO. The reason is that Roberts doesn’t want any decisions to go AGAINST his own performance in Smith v. Doe as the leading attorney for the state that successfully reversed the original 9th Circuit Court’s original negation of the registry.

    I wish there were more nuanced reasons, but the Supreme Court certiorari process gives great weight to the Chief Justice’s perogative, and sex offender cases must rate near the top of his protection racket.

    Let’s see what happens. I hope that California RSOL can provide a supporting brief that clarifies recidivism, ex post facto, and first amendment rights, among other constitutional safeguards.

    • Anonymous Nobody

      Actually, there had already been discussion about this – it was inevitable. The court previously had ruled about using GPS to track people without a warrant. All they did here was say that being a sex offender does not make a difference, it still applies the same. You need a warrant based on a good enough reason specifically assessed for that person for that.

      So, it isn’t just that Roberts knew others would go along with this ruling. They don’t at all mind if they stand alone against all the others.They had already made this ruling in another non-sex offender case, and simple could not come up with a reason to change it for sex offenders.

    • MA Citizen

      I’m glad you brought that up Eric, as I’ve been trying to figure out how to get that exact data in front of Janice for her opinion.

      Not exactly related to specifically the GPS issue, but how does this information regarding Justice Roberts affect our hopes to someday have the registries rendered unconstitutional? Will we ever be able to bring it back to the SCOTUS, or is it a null point while Justice Roberts is still seated?

    • Anonymous Nobody

      You also need to realize, Roberts does not unilaterally grant review of cases. All members of the court vote on that. Yes, individual members have extra authority on cases in the district to which he or she is assigned to oversee, so they can limit the number of cases coming out of that district, but there are nine members of the court and they are all reviewing cases.

      What Roberts does get to do is to decide who will write the prevailing opinion in any case.

      Also, re the Ninth Circuit, it is known as the most liberal of the appellate courts (becoming less and less of that every day), and as such it has been a regular sport at the Supreme Court to take pleasure in overturning Ninth Circuit cases.

  3. Nicholas Maietta

    I have permanent damage on my left leg from wearing the GPS tracker for 4 1/4 years. I have a perminant scar where i had to keep the GPS bracelet up as high as i could, using a rig i made with cloth materials, strapped to my upper leg. My bone on my shin has an indentation that is likely never to go away. I have nerve damage from the many times the GPS bracelet dropped while riding my bike.

    Let’s not forget the time i was required to charge, even during a lightning storm. Parole wouldn’t answer or return my calls, the bracelet failed. I received a massive electrical shock. All they did for me was replace the bracelet. I refused to charge after that until bracelet was replaced anyway.

    To this day when i awake in the mornings, many of the times it’s due to the sensation the bracelet is “overdue” on charging. I feel a phantom vibration from the GPS device that i no longer have on my leg.

    I’m sure I am NOT the only person dealing with these kinds of issues.

    Then there is the issue with the fact these devices are electronic, emitting electromagnetic radiation. If i suffer bone cancer later in life on my left leg, do you think they will still have “proof” that i was wearing the bracelet? We are not given any FCC mandated SAR notifications relating to cell phone usage. They are in violation of the law on that alone.

    I have pictures of the bleeding, bone indentation and still have a bit of scaring there. The never damage will have to be proven by a doctor.

  4. Clark

    Not only to help those in North Carolina unshackle the intrusion of gps but can help here in california as well…
    …maybe call or write to your public defender office or ex-offender real private attorney and ask for a review to be off those lifetime shackles gps…..note this USsupremecourt ruling for cause to review…….others in other states as well start tomorrow to have review this is your right from that intrusion …that injustice.

  5. Q

    Not even the high court will admit the obvious; all evidence points to the uselessness of GPS to do anything but enrich the monitor companies.

  6. David

    Eric, I would disagree with your belief the Roberts won’t allow a sex offender Registry case that might contradict his “win” when he was Alaska’s AG. The evolution of S.O. Registries has gone so far beyond the simple registry defended by Roberts a decade ago, that any current case would address very different, grossly expanded Registries.

  7. Ostracized Witch

    The GPS program in Orange County is disorganized. I wore a bracelet for 3 yrs. Monitors rarely and sporadically tracked my location. This is typical of all government run programs…overwhelmed and understaffed. I informed my P.O. that if I am mandated to wear it, he should at least monitor and maintain vigilance on my whereabouts…I merely wanted him to work harder.

  8. nvmike

    Would have preferred it to not be a repeat offender. This is the kind of case that is dangerous if not argued correctly. For anyone wearing a monitor, 4th amendment seems like only a part of it. Imagine a life of anxiety worrying about this thing dying or malfunctioning!insightful to hear about the physical effects of one too.

  9. Molly

    So I’m not a lawyer but the fourth amendment does state:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized

    The following points are all referenced in Mincey v. Arizona, 437 US 385 – Supreme Court 1978

    …the State points to the vital public interest in the prompt investigation of the extremely serious crime of murder. No one can doubt the importance of this goal. But the public interest in the investigation of other serious crimes is comparable. If the warrantless search of a homicide scene is reasonable, why not the warrantless search of the scene of a rape, a robbery, or a burglary? “No consideration relevant to the Fourth Amendment suggests any point of rational limitation” of such a doctrine. (Chimel v. California at 766).

    Moreover, the mere fact that law enforcement may be made more efficient can never by itself justify disregard of the Fourth Amendment. (Cf. Coolidge v. New Hampshire at 481).

    The investigation of crime would always be simplified if warrants were unnecessary. But the Fourth Amendment reflects the view of those who wrote the Bill of Rights that the privacy of a person’s home and property may not be totally sacrificed in the name of maximum simplicity in enforcement of the criminal law. (United States v. Chadwick, 433 U. S. 1. 6-11).

    “The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime.” (Johnson v. United States at 13-14).

  10. Nick

    Can this be extended to registration itself and being photographed? After all it is nothing but a search of every pimple and wrinkle on one’s face. Courts should determine if it’s reasonable or not before imposing such requirement on some one.

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