Jones is Tied Up in Knotts: A Commentary on United States v. Jones


In a case that some are calling the most important Fourth Amendment case in recent years, on June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and agreed to hear United States v. Jones, 10-1259 (Ct. App. D.C., 2010), sub nom. United States v Maynard, 615 F.3d 544 (Ct. App. D.C. 2010).

The sole question before the Court is: Whether the warrantless use of a tracking device on petitioner’s vehicle to monitor its movements on public streets violated the Fourth Amendment. U.S. v. Jones, Petition for Certiorari, at 3.

Jones involves an appeal by the government of a decision of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that use by police of a GPS unit surreptitiously installed on the defendants vehicle without a warrant to track all of the defendant's movement for a month violated the defendant's reasonable expectation in the privacy of the totality of his movements over a protracted period and, therefore, violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment.

Information and communication technology pose thorny issues in any purportedly free society, particularly one governed by a written constitution that specifically protects the rights of citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Constitutional law at the intersection of technology and privacy is, at best, unsettled. The Jones case, however, is far from the optimal forum in which to address these issues.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Michael D. Scott | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Michael D. Scott on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.