These cases brings forth the question of whether electronic eavesdropping should be termed as trespass, and whether it’s in violation of a person’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” and whether it violates the Fourth Amendment. These cases help us answer these questions by studying the different scenarios where in Katz v. United States, there is no physical trespass, whereas in United States v. Jones, there is an aspect of the government’s physical trespass.
Key words: trespass, Fourth Amendment
Forum 5 Constitutional Law
1. Briefly summarize Katz v. United States.
Katz v. United States is a case presided by the Supreme Court that discusses the nature of one’s “right to privacy” and the constitutionally accepted definition of a “search.” This case was decided following a Certiorari from the Supreme Court to the District Court for the Southern District of California to review the case. The petitioner was convicted with transmitting wagering information via a pay booth from Los Angeles to Miami and Boston in violation of a federal statute.
In this case, Charles Katz used a public booth to give out information illegally about gambling and wagering. The FBI however was recording his conversations through an eavesdropping device attached to the exterior of the booth. The court of Appeals sided with the FBI following Katz’s conviction arguing that there was no physical intrusion into the booth.
The Supreme Court ruled that the FBI’s activities in using technology to listen to the petitioner’s words violated the privacy of Katz, privacy upon which he relied upon. The court further expounded that, under the Fourth Amendment, a conversation is protected from unreasonable search and seizure if it is made with a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Therefore, wire-tapping counted as a search. Justice Stewart explains the rationale behind their decision was that “One who occupies [a telephone booth], shuts the door behind him, and pays the toll that permits him to place a call is surely entitled to assume that the words he utters into the mouthpiece will not be broadcast to the world.” (White, Welsh S., and James J. Tomkovicz. Criminal Procedure: Constitutional Constraints upon Investigation and Proof. Newark, NJ: LexisNexis Matthew Bender, 2004. (p. 6).)
2. Briefly summarize United States v. Jones.
In the case of the United States v. Antoine Jones, the government installs a GPS device on Jones’ vehicle and monitors its movement in public traffic for 28 days. This investigation was conducted without a warrant. Antoine Jones owned a nightclub in the District of Columbia, with Lawrence Maynard, as manager of the club. In 2004 a joint investigation conducted by the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department began with Jones and Maynard being suspects of narcotics violations.
It was during this investigation that a GPS installed got installed in Jones vehicle without a valid warrant. This device tracked his movement for 28 days (United States v. Maynard, Opinion p. 3, “…