U.S. v. MAYNARD Nos. 08-3030, 08-3034.
615 F.3d 544 (2010)
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee v. Lawrence MAYNARD, Appellant.
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
Decided August 6, 2010.
Peter S. Smith, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Roy W. McLeese III, John V. Geise, and Rachel C. Lieber, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.
Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge GINSBURG.
GINSBURG, Circuit Judge:
I. Background ............................................................. 549 II. Analysis: Joint Issues ................................................. 549 A. Wiretaps ............................................................ 549 B. Traffic Stop ........................................................ 551 C. Superseding Indictment .............................................. 553 D. Multiple Conspiracies ............................................... 553 E. Immunity ............................................................ 554 III. Analysis: Evidence Obtained from GPS Device ........................... 555 A. Was Use of GPS a Search? ............................................ 555 1. Knotts is not controlling ....................................... 556 2. Were Jones's locations exposed to the public? ................... 558 a. Actually exposed? .......................................... 559 (i). Precedent ........................................... 559 (ii). Application ........................................ 560 b. Constructively exposed? .................................... 560 (i). Precedent ........................................... 561 (ii). Application ........................................ 561 3. Was Jones's expectation of privacy reasonable? .................. 563 4. Visual surveillance distinguished ............................... 565 B. Was the Search Reasonable Nonetheless? .............................. 566 C. Was the Error Harmless? ............................................. 567 IV. Conclusion .............................................................. 568
The appellants, Antoine Jones and Lawrence Maynard, appeal their convictions after a joint trial for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846. Maynard also challenges the sentence imposed by the district court. Because the appellants' convictions arise from the same underlying
Jones owned and Maynard managed the "Levels" nightclub in the District of Columbia. In 2004 an FBI-Metropolitan Police Department Safe Streets Task Force began investigating the two for narcotics violations. The investigation culminated in searches and arrests on October 24, 2005. We discuss that investigation and the drug distribution operation it uncovered in greater detail where relevant to the appellants' arguments on appeal.
On October 25 Jones and several alleged co-conspirators were charged with, among other things, conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. Maynard, who was added as a defendant in superseding indictments filed in March and June 2006, pled guilty in June 2006.
In October 2006 Jones and a number of his co-defendants went to trial. The jury acquitted the co-defendants on all counts but one; it could not reach a verdict on the remaining count, which was eventually dismissed. The jury acquitted Jones on a number of counts but could not reach a verdict on the conspiracy charge, as to which the court declared a mistrial. Soon thereafter the district court allowed Maynard to withdraw his guilty plea.
In March 2007 the Government filed another superseding indictment charging Jones, Maynard, and a few co-defendants with a single count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and 50 or more grams of cocaine base. A joint trial of Jones and Maynard began in November 2007 and ended in January 2008, when the jury found them both guilty.
II. Analysis: Joint Issues
Jones and Maynard jointly argue the district court erred in (1) admitting evidence gleaned from wiretaps of their phones, (2) admitting evidence arising from a search incident to a traffic stop, (3) denying their motion to dismiss the indictment as invalid because it was handed down by a grand jury that had expired, (4) declining to instruct the jury on their theory that the evidence at trial suggested multiple conspiracies, and (5) declining to grant immunity to several defense witnesses who invoked the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and refused to testify. Jones also argues the court erred in admitting evidence acquired by the warrantless use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to track his movements continuously for a month.
Before their first trial Jones and his co-defendants moved to suppress evidence taken from wiretaps on Jones's and Maynard's phones. The police had warrants for the wiretaps, but the defendants argued the issuing court abused its discretion in approving the warrants because the
As for their motions to suppress, the district court held the applications for the warrants "amply satisfie[d]" the necessity requirement because they recounted the ordinary investigative procedures that had been tried and explained why wiretapping was necessary in order to "ascertain the extent and structure of the conspiracy." 451 F.Supp.2d at 83. We review the court's "necessity determination" for abuse of discretion. United States v. Sobamowo,
The appellants do not directly challenge the reasoning of the district court; rather they suggest sources of information to which the police hypothetically might have turned in lieu of the wiretaps, to wit, cooperating informants, controlled buys, and further video surveillance. At best, the appellants suggest investigative techniques that might have provided some of the evidence needed, but they give us no reason to doubt the district court's conclusion that "[h]aving engaged in an adequate range of investigative endeavors, the government properly sought wiretap permission and was not required to enumerate every technique or opportunity missed or overlooked." 451 F.Supp.2d at 82 (quoting Sobamowo, 892 F.2d at 93).
The appellants also requested a hearing into the credibility of the affidavit submitted by Special Agent Yanta in support of the wiretap warrants. An affidavit offered in support of a search warrant enjoys a "presumption of validity," Franks, 438 U.S. at 171, 98 S.Ct. 2674, but
Id. at 155-56, 98 S.Ct. 2674. The substantial showing required under Franks must be "more than conclusory" and "accompanied by an offer of proof." United States v. Gaston,
The appellants argued Yanta intentionally or at least recklessly both mischaracterized certain evidence and omitted any mention in her affidavit of Holden, an informant whom the appellants think might have assisted the investigation. The district court denied the motion, holding the appellants had satisfied neither the substantial showing nor the materiality requirement for a Franks hearing. 451
As we recently noted, "[t]he circuits are split on the question whether a district court's decision not to hold a Franks hearing is reviewed under the clearly erroneous or de novo standard of review," and "[w]e have not definitively resolved the issue in this circuit." United States v. Becton, 601 F.3d 588, 594 (2010) (internal quotation marks deleted). We need not resolve the issue today because even proceeding de novo we would agree with the district court: The appellants did not make the requisite substantial preliminary showing that Yanta, in her affidavit, intentionally or recklessly either described the evidence in a misleading way or failed to mention Holden. Lacking any probative evidence of Yanta's scienter, the appellants argue the district court should have inferred Yanta knew about Holden and intentionally failed to mention him because his name must have "flashed across the Task Force's team computer screens." This is speculation, not a substantial showing, and no basis upon which to question the ruling of the district court. See United States v. Richardson,
B. Traffic Stop
In 2005 Officer Frederick Whitehead, of the Durham, North Carolina Police Department, pulled over Jones's mini-van for speeding. Because we consider the "evidence in the light most favorable to the Government," Evans v. United States,
Maynard was driving and one Gordon was asleep in the passenger seat; Jones was not present. At the officer's request Maynard walked to the rear of the vehicle. There, in response to Whitehead's questioning, Maynard said he worked for a nightclub in D.C. and was driving to South Carolina to pick up a disc jockey and to bring him back for an event. When asked about his passenger, Maynard claimed not to know Gordon's last name or age. Whitehead then addressed Gordon, who had awakened and whom he thought seemed nervous, and asked him where he was going. Gordon told a different story: He and Maynard were headed to Georgia in order to meet relatives and some girls.
Whitehead then went to speak with his partner, who had arrived in a separate car. After relating the suspicious conflict in the stories he had been told, Whitehead called for a canine unit and ran the usual checks on Maynard's license and registration. He then returned to the rear of the van, where Maynard was still standing, gave Maynard back his identification, along with a warning citation, and told him he was free to leave. By that time, the canine unit had arrived on scene but remained in their vehicle. Maynard moved toward the front of the van and, as he reached to open the driver's-side door, Whitehead called out "do you mind if I ask you a few additional questions?" Maynard turned around and walked back toward Whitehead, who then asked him if he was transporting any large sums of money, illegal weapons, or explosives. Maynard "looked scared," said nothing, closed his eyes, and held his breath. He then looked at the rear of the van, told Whitehead he had a cooler he had meant to put some ice in, and reached toward the rear latch. Whitehead said not to open the door and asked Maynard if he would consent to a search; when Maynard said "yes," Whitehead frisked Maynard for weapons, asked Gordon
Before trial the appellants moved unsuccessfully to suppress evidence from the traffic stop, arguing, as they do now, that by extending the traffic stop after giving Maynard his written warning the police (1) unreasonably seized Maynard, see Illinois v. Caballes,
In determining whether a person has been seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, "the appropriate inquiry is whether a reasonable person would feel free to decline the officers' requests or otherwise terminate the encounter." Florida v. Bostick,
The appellants argue Maynard was seized because, when Officer Whitehead told Maynard he was free to go, he "had already decided that he was going to search the van .... Whitehead had no intention of letting him go until after he [had searched it]." This assertion, even if true, has no bearing upon whether a reasonable person would have felt free to decline Whitehead's request. That Maynard seemed nervous when Whitehead asked him whether he was carrying any contraband or large sums of money, which Maynard offers as further evidence he was "under duress," is irrelevant for the same reason.
We agree with the district court that, considering all the circumstances surrounding the stop, a reasonable person in
The appellants' brief might be read to argue the extension of the stop, from the time Whitehead frisked Maynard until the dog alerted, was a separate seizure. See United States v. Alexander,
The parties also dispute whether Maynard's consent to the search of the van was voluntary and whether Jones has standing to challenge that search. Those issues are mooted by our holding the extension of the stop to ask Maynard a few additional questions was not a seizure and any subsequent extension of the stop leading up to the canine sniff was supported by reasonable suspicion. The appellants do not dispute the district court's determination that the police had probable cause to search the van once the dog alerted. Accordingly, we hold the district court properly admitted evidence the police discovered by searching the van.
C. Superseding Indictment
The appellants argue the indictment returned June 27, 2006 was invalid because it was returned by a grand jury whose term had expired. As the Government points out, the validity of that indictment is irrelevant here because the appellants were charged and tried pursuant to the superseding indictment returned by a different grand jury on March 21, 2007. The appellants point to no infirmity in the relevant indictment.
D. Multiple Conspiracies
At trial the appellants asked the court to instruct the jury that proof of multiple separate conspiracies is not proof
The appellants argue the evidence at trial supports the existence of "[t]wo independent supply-side conspiracies." The two purportedly separate conspiracies they instance, however, each comprises the core conspiracy charged—that of Maynard, Jones, and the same co-conspirators, to possess and to distribute cocaine and cocaine base—differing only as to the supplier of the drugs, as reflected in the following illustration:
Even if the evidence showed the charged conspiracy to distribute drugs relied upon two different suppliers, and the Government does not concede it did, that does not cleave in two the single conspiracy to distribute the appellants were charged with operating. As the appellants offer no other reason to doubt the district court's conclusion, in rejecting the proposed instruction, that "[t]he defendants here and their coconspirators [were] involved in a single overarching conspiracy," there was no error in the district court's refusal to instruct the jury about multiple conspiracies.
At trial, the appellants called a number of their co-conspirators as witnesses, but the co-conspirators refused to testify, asserting their right, under the Fifth Amendment, not to be compelled to incriminate themselves. The appellants then asked the district court, "in its discretion, [to] adopt [the] rationale and ... procedure" set forth in Carter v. United States,
Id. at 342. In Carter the court held that if the Government did not "submit to the court a reasonable basis for not affording use immunity," then the court would dismiss the indictment. Id. at 343. The district court refused to follow Carter.
The appellants do not argue the district court's refusal to follow Carter violated
Instead, their counsel told the district court:
The appellants mistake our role in asking us "to fashion" a rule of the sort the district court declined to adopt. Absent a well-founded claim they were deprived of due process, the only question they may properly raise is whether the district court abused its discretion, to which the answer is obviously no.
III. Analysis: Evidence Obtained from GPS Device
Jones argues his conviction should be overturned because the police violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition of "unreasonable searches" by tracking his movements 24 hours a day for four weeks with a GPS device they had installed on his Jeep without a valid warrant.
A. Was Use of GPS a Search?
For his part, Jones argues the use of the GPS device violated his "reasonable expectation of privacy," Katz v. United States,
1. Knotts is not controlling
The Government argues this case falls squarely within the holding in Knotts that "[a] person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another." 460 U.S. at 281, 103 S.Ct. 1081. In that case the police had planted a beeper in a five-gallon container of chemicals before it was purchased by one of Knotts's co-conspirators; monitoring the progress of the car carrying the beeper, the police followed the container as it was driven from the "place of purchase, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to [Knotts's] secluded cabin near Shell Lake, Wisconsin," 460 U.S. at 277, 103 S.Ct. 1081, a trip of about 100 miles. Because the co-conspirator, by driving on public roads, "voluntarily conveyed to anyone who wanted to look" his progress and route, he could not reasonably expect privacy in "the fact of his final destination." Id. at 281, 103 S.Ct. 1081.
The Court explicitly distinguished between the limited information discovered by use of the beeper—movements during a discrete journey—and more comprehensive or sustained monitoring of the sort at issue in this case. Id. at 283, 103 S.Ct. 1081 (noting "limited use which the government made of the signals from this particular beeper"); see also id. at 284-85, 103 S.Ct. 1081 ("nothing in this record indicates that the beeper signal was received or relied upon after it had indicated that the [container] had ended its automotive journey at rest on respondent's premises in rural Wisconsin"). Most important for the present case, the Court specifically reserved the question whether a warrant would be required in a case involving "twenty-four hour surveillance," stating
Id. at 283-84, 103 S.Ct. 1081.
Although the Government, focusing upon the term "dragnet," suggests Knotts reserved the Fourth Amendment question that would be raised by mass surveillance, not the question raised by prolonged surveillance of a single individual, that is not what happened. In reserving the "dragnet" question, the Court was not only addressing but in part actually quoting the defendant's argument that, if a warrant is not required, then prolonged "twenty-four hour surveillance of any citizen of this country will be possible, without judicial knowledge or supervision." Id. at 283, 103 S.Ct. 1081.
In short, Knotts held only that "[a] person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another," id. at 281, 103 S.Ct. 1081, not that such a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements whatsoever, world without end, as the Government would have it. The Fifth Circuit likewise has recognized the limited scope of the holding in Knotts, see United States v. Butts,
Two circuits, relying upon Knotts, have held the use of a GPS tracking device to monitor an individual's movements in his vehicle over a prolonged period is not a search, United States v. Pineda-Moreno,
In a third related case the Eighth Circuit held the use of a GPS device to track a truck used by a drug trafficking operation was not a search. United States v. Marquez,
Id. at 609-10.
In each of these three cases the court expressly reserved the issue it seems to have thought the Supreme Court had reserved in Knotts, to wit, whether "wholesale" or "mass" electronic surveillance of many individuals requires a warrant. Marquez, 605 F.3d at 610; Pineda-Moreno, 591 F.3d at 1216 n. 2; Garcia, 474 F.3d at 996. As we have explained, in Knotts the Court actually reserved the issue of prolonged surveillance. That issue is squarely presented in this case. Here the police used the GPS device not to track Jones's "movements from one place to another," Knotts, 460 U.S. at 281, 103 S.Ct. 1081, but rather to track Jones's movements 24 hours a day for 28 days as he moved among scores of places, thereby discovering the totality and pattern of his movements from place to place to place.
2. Were Jones's locations exposed to the public?
As the Supreme Court observed in Kyllo, the "Katz test—whether the individual has an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable—has often been criticized as circular, and hence subjective and unpredictable." 533 U.S. at 34, 121 S.Ct. 2038. Indeed, the Court has invoked various and varying considerations in applying the test. See O'Connor v. Ortega,
Two considerations persuade us the information the police discovered in this case—the totality of Jones's movements over the course of a month—was not exposed to the public: First, unlike one's movements during a single journey, the whole of one's movements over the course of a month is not actually exposed to the public because the likelihood anyone will observe all those movements is effectively nil. Second, the whole of one's movements is not exposed constructively even though each individual movement is exposed, because that whole reveals more—sometimes a great deal more—than does the sum of its parts.
a. Actually exposed?
The holding in Knotts flowed naturally from the reasoning in Katz: "What a person knowingly exposes to the public ... is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection," 389 U.S. at 351, 88 S.Ct. 507. See Knotts, 460 U.S. at 281-82, 103 S.Ct. 1081 (movements observed by police were "voluntarily conveyed to anyone who wanted to look"). The Government argues the same reasoning applies here as well. We first consider the precedent governing our analysis of whether the subject of a purported search has been exposed to the public, then hold the information the police discovered using the GPS device was not so exposed.
The Government argues Jones's movements over the course of a month were actually exposed to the public because the police lawfully could have followed Jones everywhere he went on public roads over the course of a month. The Government implicitly poses the wrong question, however.
In considering whether something is "exposed" to the public as that term was used in Katz we ask not what another person can physically and may lawfully do but rather what a reasonable person expects another might actually do. See California v. Greenwood,
488 U.S. at 453, 455, 109 S.Ct. 693; see also id. at 467, 109 S.Ct. 693 (Blackmun, J., dissenting) (explaining five justices agreed "the reasonableness of Riley's expectation depends, in large measure, on the frequency of nonpolice helicopter flights at an altitude of 400 feet").
The Supreme Court re-affirmed this approach in Bond v. United States,
Id. at 338-39, 120 S.Ct. 1462. The Court focused not upon what other passengers could have done or what a bus company employee might have done, but rather upon what a reasonable bus passenger expects others he may encounter, i.e., fellow passengers or bus company employees, might actually do. A similar focus can be seen in Kyllo, in which the Court held use of a thermal imaging device defeats the subject's reasonable expectation of privacy, "at least where ... the technology in question is not in general public use." 533 U.S. at 34, 121 S.Ct. 2038.
The Government cites as authority to the contrary our statement in United States v. Gbemisola,
225 F.3d at 759. In short, it was not at all unlikely Gbemisola would be observed opening a package while seated in the rear of a taxi, in plain view of the driver and perhaps of others.
Applying the foregoing analysis to the present facts, we hold the whole of a person's movements over the course of a month is not actually exposed to the public because the likelihood a stranger would observe all those movements is not just remote, it is essentially nil. It is one thing for a passerby to observe or even to follow someone during a single journey as he goes to the market or returns home from work. It is another thing entirely for that stranger to pick up the scent again the next day and the day after that, week in and week out, dogging his prey until he has identified all the places, people, amusements, and chores that make up that person's hitherto private routine.
b. Constructively exposed?
The Government does not separately raise, but we would be remiss if we did not address, the possibility that although the whole of Jones's movements during the month for which the police monitored him was not actually exposed to the public, it
The Supreme Court addressed the distinction between a whole and the sum of its parts in United States Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of Press,
The Court implicitly recognized the distinction between the whole and the sum of the parts in the Fourth Amendment case of Smith v. Maryland,
If, for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment, the privacy interest in a whole could be no greater (or no different) than the privacy interest in its constituent parts, then the Supreme Court would have had no reason to consider at length whether Smith could have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the list of numbers he had called. Indeed, Justice Stewart dissented specifically because he thought the difference was significant on the facts of that case. See id. at 747, 99 S.Ct. 2577 ("such a list [of all the telephone numbers one called] easily could reveal ... the most intimate details of a person's life").
The whole of one's movements over the course of a month is not constructively
As with the "mosaic theory" often invoked by the Government in cases involving national security information, "What may seem trivial to the uninformed, may appear of great moment to one who has a broad view of the scene." CIA v. Sims,
Other courts have recognized prolonged surveillance of a person's movements may reveal an intimate picture of his life. See Galella v. Onassis,
A reasonable person does not expect anyone to monitor and retain a record of every time he drives his car, including his origin, route, destination, and each place he stops and how long he stays there; rather, he expects each of those movements to remain "disconnected and anonymous," Nader v. Gen. Motors Corp.,
3. Was Jones's expectation of privacy reasonable?
It does not apodictically follow that, because the aggregation of Jones's movements over the course of a month was not exposed to the public, his expectation of privacy in those movements was reasonable; "legitimation of expectations of privacy must have a source outside the Fourth Amendment," such as "understandings that are recognized or permitted by society," United States v. Jacobsen,
The Government suggests Jones's expectation of privacy in his movements was unreasonable because those movements took place in his vehicle, on a public way, rather than inside his home. That the police tracked Jones's movements in his Jeep rather than in his home is certainly relevant to the reasonableness of his expectation of privacy; "in the sanctity of the home," the Court has observed, "all details are intimate details," Kyllo, 533 U.S. at 37, 121 S.Ct. 2038. A person does not leave his privacy behind when he walks out his front door, however. On the contrary, in Katz the Court clearly stated "what [one] seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected." 389 U.S. at 351, 88 S.Ct. 507. Or, as this court has said, outside the home, the "Fourth Amendment ... secur[es] for each individual a private enclave, a `zone' bounded by the individual's own reasonable expectations of privacy." Reporters Comm. for Freedom of Press v. AT & T,
Application of the test in Katz and its sequellae to the facts of this case can lead to only one conclusion: Society recognizes Jones's expectation of privacy in his movements over the course of a month as reasonable, and the use of the GPS device to monitor those movements defeated that reasonable expectation. As we have discussed, prolonged GPS monitoring reveals an intimate picture of the subject's life that he expects no one to have—short perhaps of his spouse. The intrusion such monitoring makes into the subject's private affairs stands in stark contrast to the relatively brief intrusion at issue in Knotts; indeed it exceeds the intrusions occasioned by every police practice the Supreme Court has deemed a search under Katz, such as a
We note without surprise, therefore, that the Legislature of California, in making it unlawful for anyone but a law enforcement agency to "use an electronic tracking device to determine the location or movement of a person," specifically declared "electronic tracking of a person's location without that person's knowledge violates that person's reasonable expectation of privacy," and implicitly but necessarily thereby required a warrant for police use of a GPS, California Penal Code section 637.7, Stats.1998 c. 449 (S.B.1667) § 2. Several other states have enacted legislation imposing civil and criminal penalties for the use of electronic tracking devices and expressly requiring exclusion of evidence produced by such a device unless obtained by the police acting pursuant to a warrant. See, e.g., Utah Code Ann. §§ 77-23a-4, 77-23a-7, 77-23a-15.5; Minn. Stat. §§ 626A.37, 626A.35; Fla. Stat. §§ 934.06, 934.42; S.C.Code Ann. § 17-30-140; Okla. Stat., tit. 13, §§ 176.6, 177.6; Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 803-42, 803-44.7; 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5761.
Although perhaps not conclusive evidence of nationwide "societal understandings," Jacobsen, 466 U.S. at 123 n. 22, 104 S.Ct. 1652, these state laws are indicative that prolonged GPS monitoring defeats an expectation of privacy that our society recognizes as reasonable. So, too, are the considered judgments of every court to which the issue has been squarely presented. See Weaver, 12 N.Y.3d at 447, 882 N.Y.S.2d 357, 909 N.E.2d 1195 ("the installation and use of a GPS device to monitor an individual's whereabouts requires a warrant supported by probable cause"); Jackson, 76 P.3d at 223-24 (under art. I, § 7 of Washington State Constitution, which "focuses on those privacy interests which citizens of this state have held, and should be entitled to hold, safe from governmental trespass," "use of a GPS device on a private vehicle involves a search and seizure"); cf. Commonwealth v. Connolly,
4. Visual surveillance distinguished
The Government would have us abjure this conclusion on the ground that "[Jones's] argument logically would prohibit even visual surveillance of persons or vehicles located in public places and exposed to public view, which clearly is not the law." We have already explained why Jones's argument does not "logically ... prohibit" much visual surveillance: Surveillance that reveals only what is already exposed to the public—such as a person's movements during a single journey—is not a search. See Knotts, 460 U.S. at 285, 103 S.Ct. 1081.
Regarding visual surveillance so prolonged it reveals information not exposed to the public, we note preliminarily that the Government points to not a single actual example of visual surveillance that will be affected by our holding the use of the GPS in this case was a search. No doubt the reason is that practical considerations prevent visual surveillance from lasting very long.
The Government's argument— that our holding the use of the GPS device was a search necessarily implicates prolonged
This case does not require us to, and therefore we do not, decide whether a hypothetical instance of prolonged visual surveillance would be a search subject to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. As the Supreme Court said in Dow Chemical Co. v. United States, "Fourth Amendment cases must be decided on the facts of each case, not by extravagant generalizations. `We have never held that potential, as opposed to actual, invasions of privacy constitute searches for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.'"
B. Was the Search Reasonable Nonetheless?
A search conducted without a warrant is "per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment—subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions." Katz, 389 U.S. at 357, 88 S.Ct. 507. Here, because the police installed the GPS device on Jones's vehicle without a valid warrant,
As Jones points out, this argument is doubly off the mark. First, the Government did not raise it below. See Bryant v. Gates,
C. Was the Error Harmless?
Finally, the Government argues in a terse and conclusory few lines that the district court's error in admitting evidence obtained by use of the GPS device was harmless. "The beneficiary of a constitutional error [must prove] beyond a reasonable doubt that the error complained of did not contribute to the verdict obtained." Chapman v. California,
According to the Government, "Overwhelming evidence implicated [Jones] in the drug-distribution conspiracy." Overwhelming evidence certainly showed there was a conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute drugs based out of 9508 Potomac Drive, Ft. Washington, Maryland, where police found $850,000 in cash, 97 kilograms of cocaine, and one kilogram of cocaine base. The evidence linking Jones to that conspiracy, however, was not strong, let alone overwhelming.
The Government points to no evidence of a drug transaction in which Jones was involved, nor any evidence that Jones ever possessed any drugs. Instead it relies upon (1) the testimony of admitted participants in the conspiracy, one of whom (Bermea) was at the Potomac Drive house when the police arrived—to the effect that Jones was the ringleader of the operation and frequented the Potomac Drive house, (2) data showing Jones used his cell-phone frequently and often called some of the conspirators, including one whose phone was found at the Potomac Drive house, (3) leases in Jones's name for other properties the Government alleged were used in furtherance of the conspiracy, (4) currency seized from Jones's Jeep and mini-van, and (5) physical and photographic surveillance showing Jones visited the Potomac Drive house a few times. Jones's defense responded to each type of evidence as follows: (1) the cooperating witnesses had cut deals with the Government and were not credible, (2) the cell-phone records and (5) visits to Potomac Drive showed only that Jones knew the participants in the conspiracy, (3) Jones leased the other properties for legitimate purposes and no drugs were found there, (4) and his nightclub was a cash business.
The GPS data were essential to the Government's case. By combining them with Jones's cell-phone records the Government was able to paint a picture of Jones's movements that made credible the allegation that he was involved in drug trafficking. In his closing statement the Government
Tr. 1/3/08 at 114-18. As mentioned earlier, the Government had also stressed in its opening remarks, which would color the jury's understanding of the whole case, that the GPS data would demonstrate Jones's involvement in the conspiracy.
To be sure, absent the GPS data a jury reasonably might have inferred Jones was involved in the conspiracy. "We are not concerned here," however, "with whether there was sufficient evidence on which [Jones] could have been convicted without the evidence complained of"; rather our concern is with "whether there is a reasonable possibility that the evidence complained of might have contributed to the conviction." Fahy v. Connecticut,
Maynard's conviction and sentence are affirmed because neither any of the appellants' joint arguments nor Maynard's individual argument warrants reversal. Jones's conviction is reversed because it was obtained with evidence procured in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
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