4thAmendement Blog – E.D.Cal.: No discovery granted for 2009 GPS placement

Permalink 09:01:15 am, by fourth,
E.D.Cal.: No discovery granted for 2009 GPS placement; any suppression issue’s a loser

Defendants get no discovery on the issue of 2009 placement of the GPS device on their car because they can’t win on the GPS issue anyway because of Davis. Despite their best efforts to conjure up an argument, it won’t go anywhere. United States v. Arceo-Rangel, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112785 (E.D. Cal. August 8, 2013):


Defendants do not contend that the officers who installed the tracker on Gutierrez-Valencia’s vehicle in 2009 acted inconsistently with Ninth Circuit law as expressed at the time in McIver and Pineda I. Instead, defendants argue that the magistrate judge should have granted their discovery request because the materials they sought would have shown that the government had sometimes requested warrants for tracking devices before the Supreme Court’s decision in Jones. (ECF 305 at 14.) According to defendants, the fact that the agents had ever acquired warrants to use GPS trackers during this time period, while neglecting to obtain a warrant for Gutierrez-Valencia’s vehicle, demonstrates that the agents did not objectively rely on McIver and Pineda I. (Id.)

Despite the reference in their brief to “objective” reliance, defendants’ argument actually asks the court to evaluate whether the government agents subjectively believed that they were reasonably relying on judicial precedent during the investigation. However, the officers’ subjective intent is irrelevant. See Davis, 131 S. Ct. at 2428; see also Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135, 145 (2009); Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 813-14 (1996). As defendants concede, the Ninth Circuit law at the time of the investigation allowed the agents to install the tracker on Gutierrez-Valencia’s vehicle without a warrant. Accordingly, the agents who installed the tracker had reason to believe that their actions did not violate the Fourth Amendment, meaning their behavior was objectively reasonable. The fact that agents may not have obtained warrants before installing trackers in cases with similar but distinguishable facts does not change the reasonableness of the agents’ actions in this particular case; it could only show that the agents’ subjective intentions varied between investigations. This is irrelevant to the analysis of whether the Fourth Amendment was violated. See Whren, 517 U.S. at 813-14 (declining to evaluate constitutional reasonableness of traffic stop by comparing officer’s actions to “usual police practices” because it asks the Court to determine if “it is plausible to believe that the officer had the proper state of mind”). Moreover, defendants have not disputed the government’s contention that agents consistently sought warrants only when seeking to install trackers on cars located in private places. (See ECF 306 at 21.)

Because under Davis, evidence obtained here through the GPS tracker device is not subject to the exclusionary rule, defendants’ discovery request would not support a motion to exclude and was properly denied by the magistrate judge. As this is a sufficient reason to uphold the magistrate judge’s ruling, the court therefore need not address his additional holding that Armstrong limits a Rule 16 motion to discovery of materials that are relevant to the prosecution’s case in chief, not a pretrial motion.


About Aaron Law Firm

Aaron Law Firm handles criminal cases in city, state and federal courts in the state of Alabama. If you are accused of a crime it has to be taken seriously, even accusation of a crime can have serious effect on many different areas of your life. If it is a DUI or something more serious it has to be taken as a threat to your freedom. After you have been accused of a crime, you should always consult a lawyer before talking to the authorities . Seek immediate legal counsel and make sure your rights are protected.

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