tuesday, 20 november of 2018


Wisconsin top court rules GPS trackers not subject to state warrant law: US

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled Friday that GPS trackers are not subject to state statutes on the execution of warrants.

The majority found that Wisconsin Stat § 968.15 and 968.17(1), which require that any warrant for the search and seizure of property be conducted within five days of issuance and be returned to the issuing judge in a timely manner, do not govern the use of GPS trackers because GPS warrants are not used for the seizure of designated property. The majority specifically found that:

Such a warrant for GPS tracking is not issued pursuant to a statute, but instead is issued pursuant to the court’s inherent authority and thus, must comply only with the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 11 of the Wisconsin Constitution.

The court found that as the GPS tracker only creates data, a warrant for use of a GPS tracker cannot be said to be a search warrant under Wisconsin Statutes and is not subject to those rules.

This appeal was brought by Johnny Pinder, a burglar who was arrested and tried by the state. Pinder was suspected of several burglaries of various offices in Mequon, Wisconsin. Police in Mequon obtained a warrant for a GPS tracker, which they waited 10 days to install on Pinder’s car. The police then tracked Pinder’s car to the scene of a burglary and subsequently arrested him. At trial, Pinder moved to suppress the evidence from his GPS arguing that it constituted an improperly executed search warrant as they exceeded the time under Wisconsin § 968.15 to install it. Both the trial court and circuit court disagreed and Pinder was ultimately sentenced to five years in prison.

Justice Annette Ziegler writing for the majority did request that the Legislature address GPS warrants specifically so as to remove any ambiguity in the future.

Read more about the case here.

(Published by Jurits Org, November 19, 2018)

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