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Thread: Federal Court Throws Out Six Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance US v. Vargas

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    Federal Court Throws Out Six Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance US v. Vargas

    Nine case PDF documents https://www.eff.org/cases/united-states-v-vargas

    In United States v. Vargas local police in rural Washington suspected Vargas of drug trafficking. In April 2013, police installed a camera on top of a utility pole overlooking his home. Even though police did not have a warrant, they nonetheless pointed the camera at his front door and driveway and began watching every day. A month later, police observed Vargas shoot some beer bottles with a gun and because Vargas was an undocumented immigrant, they had probable cause to believe he was illegally possessing a firearm. They used the video surveillance to obtain a warrant to search his home, which uncovered drugs and guns, leading to a federal indictment against Vargas.

    Vargas moved to suppress the evidence and Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea invited us to submit an amicus brief, which we filed late last year. After an evidentiary hearing, the judge wanted more information about the specific surveillance equipment the government was using, details the government was unsuccessful in keeping secret.

    Today Judge Shea issued this brief minute order:

    Law enforcement's warrantless and constant covert video surveillance of Defendant's rural front yard is contrary to the public's reasonable expectation of privacy and violates Defendant's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search. The video evidence and fruit of the video evidence are suppressed.
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    Well, we'll never know the details of the video equipment. From what I read, it was not a static camera(s) or at least included more than one camera.

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    What ever happened to the good old steak-out :P I'm surprised that court ruled in the defendant's favor. It was the right decision but I'm still surprised.
    Last edited by willy1094; 12-13-2014 at 01:08 PM.

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    Regular Member Difdi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willy1094 View Post
    What ever happened to the good old steak-out
    Steak outs aren't a good idea. The suspect tends to get suspicious of parked vans smelling of roasting meat.

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    Regular Member Baked on Grease's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Difdi View Post
    Steak outs aren't a good idea. The suspect tends to get suspicious of parked vans smelling of roasting meat.
    Only if they don't share.
    "A Right Un-exercised is a Right Lost"

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    Regular Member MackTheKnife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Difdi View Post
    Steak outs aren't a good idea. The suspect tends to get suspicious of parked vans smelling of roasting meat.
    Hilarious!

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    Mack The Knife sends.

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