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Thread: Federal Court OK's hidden cameras on private property without warrant

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Federal Court OK's hidden cameras on private property without warrant

    We had this discussion before pertaining to Conservation Officers and OC'ing without a permit during the "SPECIAL PERSON" seasons and the definition of curtilage.

    The courts just reaffirmed.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57...lance-cameras/
    Court OKs warrantless use of hidden surveillance cameras

    In latest case to test how technological developments alter Americans' privacy, federal court sides with Justice Department on police use of concealed surveillance cameras on private property.

    October 30, 2012 10:45 AM PDT



    Police are allowed in some circumstances to install hidden surveillance cameras on private property without obtaining a search warrant, a federal judge said yesterday.
    CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge William Griesbach ruled that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission -- and without a warrant -- to install multiple "covert digital surveillance cameras" in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana plants were being grown.
    This is the latest case to highlight how advances in technology are causing the legal system to rethink how Americans' privacy rights are protected by law. In January, the Supreme Court rejected warrantless GPS tracking after previously rejecting warrantless thermal imaging, but it has not yet ruled on warrantless cell phone tracking or warrantless use of surveillance cameras placed on private property without permission.
    Yesterday Griesbach adopted a recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Callahan dated October 9. That recommendation said that the DEA's warrantless surveillance did not violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and requires that warrants describe the place that's being searched.
    "The Supreme Court has upheld the use of technology as a substitute for ordinary police surveillance," Callahan wrote.
    Two defendants in the case, Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana of Green Bay, Wis., have been charged with federal drug crimes after DEA agent Steven Curran claimed to have discovered more than 1,000 marijuana plants grown on the property, and face possible life imprisonment and fines of up to $10 million. Mendoza and Magana asked Callahan to throw out the video evidence on Fourth Amendment grounds, noting that "No Trespassing" signs were posted throughout the heavily wooded, 22-acre property owned by Magana and that it also had a locked gate.


    Callahan based his reasoning on a 1984 Supreme Court case called Oliver v. United States, in which a majority of the justices said that "open fields" could be searched without warrants because they're not covered by the Fourth Amendment. What lawyers call "curtilage," on the other hand, meaning the land immediately surrounding a residence, still has greater privacy protections.
    "Placing a video camera in a location that allows law enforcement to record activities outside of a home and beyond protected curtilage does not violate the Fourth Amendment," Justice Department prosecutors James Santelle and William Lipscomb told Callahan.
    As digital sensors become cheaper and wireless connections become more powerful, the Justice Department's argument would allow police to install cameras on private property without court oversight -- subject only to budgetary limits and political pressure.
    About four days after the DEA's warrantless installation of surveillance cameras, a magistrate judge did subsequently grant a warrant. But attorneys for Mendoza and Magana noticed that the surveillance took place before the warrant was granted.
    "That one's actions could be recorded on their own property, even if the property is not within the curtilage, is contrary to society's concept of privacy," wrote Brett Reetz, Magana's attorney, in a legal filing last month. "The owner and his guest... had reason to believe that their activities on the property were not subject to video surveillance as it would constitute a violation of privacy."
    A jury trial has been scheduled for January 22.

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Were not (are not) "open fields" just that - fields that you can see into without needing to cross the property line?

    If the DEA wants to stake out a pot grow they can put cameras on telephone poles (power line towers) just like the FBI did during the Red Scare days. And why they need concealed survelience cameras at all in this day of drones (predatory or otherwise) seems rather odd in itself, seeing as how stationary cameras seem to miss more than they catch, plus can be tripped by irrelevant wildlife.

    My Spidey Senses tell me there is something more than merely monitoring a pot grow going on here.

    stay safe.
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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    ... can be tripped by irreverent wildlife...
    fixed it for you...
    "It's not important how many people I've killed. What's important is how I get along with the people who are still alive" - Jimmy the Tulip

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    Were not (are not) "open fields" just that - fields that you can see into without needing to cross the property line?

    If the DEA wants to stake out a pot grow they can put cameras on telephone poles (power line towers) just like the FBI did during the Red Scare days. And why they need concealed survelience cameras at all in this day of drones (predatory or otherwise) seems rather odd in itself, seeing as how stationary cameras seem to miss more than they catch, plus can be tripped by irrelevant wildlife.

    My Spidey Senses tell me there is something more than merely monitoring a pot grow going on here.

    stay safe.
    At one time before we were on Ernie Alert...they were only allowed to put them as high as the highest vehicle allowed, without a warrant. I don't have the cite handy. The open fields ruling as I recall....said something like you can see it from the property line anyway.

    Yeah, I agree...thars skullduggery afoot!

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    The cameras might make good targets. Have at it.
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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    Y'all recall the 1990's movie The Thomas Crown Affair? Where Crown had a forger paint a copy of the stolen masterpiece onto a print of dogs playing poker? Then the hot private investigator played by Rene Russo found the forgery during a warrantless search of Crown's study. When she triumphantly returned with the painting, an art expert examined the forgery painting under x-ray and found the dogs print.

    Heh, heh, heh.

    If you know the camera is there, you could have all kinds of fun.
    Last edited by Citizen; 11-01-2012 at 05:32 PM.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    Y'all recall the 1990's movie The Thomas Crown Affair? Where Crown had a forger paint a copy of the stolen masterpiece onto a print of dogs playing poker?

    Heh, heh, heh.

    If you know the camera is there, you could have all kinds of fun.
    If I knew the camera was there....I'd have another game camera!

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    If I knew the camera was there....I'd have another game camera!
    They'd come demanding it back like the guy who found a GPS unit on his car and separated it from the power source.

    You could really play with their heads, though. Run an old Bugs Bunny cartoon into it. Then some old keystone cops black-and-white short films. Of course, it just has to include the cop who shot himself in the leg right after telling the schoolkids that he was the only one professional enough... You get the idea.

    Or, just blame the loss of the camera on dog hunters.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    Run an old Bugs Bunny cartoon into it.
    Or some child porn, then they would be guilty of recording it!

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    Regular Member Esanders2008's Avatar
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    Federal Court OK's hidden cameras on private property without warrant

    Quote Originally Posted by davidmcbeth View Post
    Or some child porn, then they would be guilty of recording it!
    But where would YOU obtain such things.... :/
    ...To make my bullets go faster!

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    Regular Member carolina guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    They'd come demanding it back like the guy who found a GPS unit on his car and separated it from the power source.

    You could really play with their heads, though. Run an old Bugs Bunny cartoon into it. Then some old keystone cops black-and-white short films. Of course, it just has to include the cop who shot himself in the leg right after telling the schoolkids that he was the only one professional enough... You get the idea.

    Or, just blame the loss of the camera on dog hunters.
    Have it record a television show, like cops...
    If something is wrong for ONE person to do to another, it is still wrong if a BILLION people do it.

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    Regular Member richarcm's Avatar
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    They will start running K9s up on your property anyways. It's the easiest means to get a warrant. And it's so easy to create a false positive.

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    Regular Member SFCRetired's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richarcm View Post
    They will start running K9s up on your property anyways. It's the easiest means to get a warrant. And it's so easy to create a false positive.
    Hmmm, feral dog running loose on someone's property? Didn't see anything indicating the feral dog was a K9? That would be a very, very interesting court case. And, very probably, a very, very dead "feral" dog. Of course, that is more likely in a rural environment than in an urban environment.

    Another side of that coin: If a human officer would be trespassing, why would not a K9, also considered to be a police officer, be just as guilty of trespass?
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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFCRetired View Post
    Hmmm, feral dog running loose on someone's property? Didn't see anything indicating the feral dog was a K9? That would be a very, very interesting court case. And, very probably, a very, very dead "feral" dog. Of course, that is more likely in a rural environment than in an urban environment.

    Another side of that coin: If a human officer would be trespassing, why would not a K9, also considered to be a police officer, be just as guilty of trespass?
    There is a K9 Case in the Supreme Court now deciding if an officer can use a positive hit from outside a house as PC to get a search warrant.

    As to trespassing, if the cop is on duty, he isn't trespassing. He may not be able to use what he finds as evidence but you can't prosecute him.

    There are certain occupations in Va that are exempted from the trespassing statute. Surveyors, people looking for possible utility or ROW easements and Cops, DOGHUNTERS getting their mutts that they ran in on purpose...to name a few.

    An interesting thing about that is, a LEO who comes on the property without probable suspicion and finds a still, probably can't get a search warrant based on his observation but a worthless dog hunter can see a still and tell a LEO who can use that as PC for the warrant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    ... As to trespassing, if the cop is on duty, he isn't trespassing. He may not be able to use what he finds as evidence but you can't prosecute him.

    There are certain occupations in Va that are exempted from the trespassing statute. Surveyors, people looking for possible utility or ROW easements and Cops, DOGHUNTERS getting their mutts that they ran in on purpose...to name a few. ...
    Note that the trespassing statute only defines a criminal offense. It has no bearing on whether or not the intruder is a trespasser, which is defined by common law. The landowner can always file a civil suit for the trespass, either in an action at law for damages resulting from trespasses already committed, or in equity for an injunction to prohibit future trespasses. In the case of a person charged with a crime as the result of the trespass, I'm thinking, that looks like some serious damages claims! If it weren't for the trespassory acts by non-law enforcement (DEA) people, he'd have never been charged with the crime, so it's their intentionally wrongful act that resulted in his damages. I wouldn't take that case, but it sure would be fun!
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    Note that the trespassing statute only defines a criminal offense. It has no bearing on whether or not the intruder is a trespasser, which is defined by common law. The landowner can always file a civil suit for the trespass, either in an action at law for damages resulting from trespasses already committed, or in equity for an injunction to prohibit future trespasses. In the case of a person charged with a crime as the result of the trespass, I'm thinking, that looks like some serious damages claims! If it weren't for the trespassory acts by non-law enforcement (DEA) people, he'd have never been charged with the crime, so it's their intentionally wrongful act that resulted in his damages. I wouldn't take that case, but it sure would be fun!
    Hey! You're back! I was getting worried. Hope everything is fine. Glad you're back.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    There is a K9 Case in the Supreme Court now deciding if an officer can use a positive hit from outside a house as PC to get a search warrant.

    As to trespassing, if the cop is on duty, he isn't trespassing. He may not be able to use what he finds as evidence but you can't prosecute him.

    There are certain occupations in Va that are exempted from the trespassing statute. Surveyors, people looking for possible utility or ROW easements and Cops, DOGHUNTERS getting their mutts that they ran in on purpose...to name a few.

    An interesting thing about that is, a LEO who comes on the property without probable suspicion and finds a still, probably can't get a search warrant based on his observation but a worthless dog hunter can see a still and tell a LEO who can use that as PC for the warrant.
    The citizen (not THE Citizen of OCDO fame) may be immune (exempted) from trespassing statutes, but any property that he may leave behind and who now owns said property is (may be) a different issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    Note that the trespassing statute only defines a criminal offense. It has no bearing on whether or not the intruder is a trespasser, which is defined by common law. The landowner can always file a civil suit for the trespass, either in an action at law for damages resulting from trespasses already committed, or in equity for an injunction to prohibit future trespasses. In the case of a person charged with a crime as the result of the trespass, I'm thinking, that looks like some serious damages claims! If it weren't for the trespassory acts by non-law enforcement (DEA) people, he'd have never been charged with the crime, so it's their intentionally wrongful act that resulted in his damages. I wouldn't take that case, but it sure would be fun!
    If I find a device, placed (installed) without my permission or a warrant, who owns the device? The "utilities" may install and remove as they please, no issues with that. Surveyors rarely leave behind anything more than sticks and paint.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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