Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a disappointing but fortunately narrow decision in a case involving warrantless tracking of a vehicle with a GPS device. The three-judge panel refused to exclude GPS tracking evidence under what’s known as the “good faith” exception, ruling that when the tracking took place, law enforcement agents reasonably relied on binding circuit court precedent in concluding that no warrant was necessary. The tracking happened before the Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Jones that GPS device tracking triggers Fourth Amendment protections.
In the case, United States v. Pineda-Moreno, law enforcement agents attached GPS tracking devices to Mr. Pineda-Moreno’s vehicle. They did not get a warrant, and the Ninth Circuit initially ruled they didn’t need one because of its view that the Fourth Amendment provides no protections against warrantless GPS tracking.