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No standing for a defendant challenging the warrantless installation of a GPS tracking device

In U.S. v. Gibson, the defendants were convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base and with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. Defendant Burton was charged with a the federals crime when cocaine was found in the pickup truck he was driving. Federal Agents suspected that codefendant Gibson, who was a frequent driver of Burton’s truck, had been using it for drug trafficking. The agents saw Gibson driving the truck and saw it parked in front of Gibson’s. Burton was the registered owner, however. While the truck was parked in front of Gibson’s house, the agents installed a tracking device on the undercarriage of the truck without a warrant. They tracked its movement for the next month. At one point, while it was moving between Tallahassee and Ocala, the agents grew suspicious that it was carrying drugs and they had a sheriff deputy make a traffic stop. Burton was driving, and he was arrested when two kilograms of cocaine were found following a consensual search. Burton filed a motion to suppress the evidence based on the warrantless installation of the tracking devise. The federal trial court found no Fourth Amendment violation. Gibson later filed a motion to suppress evidence based on the warrantless installation of the tracking device and a motion for reconsideration. He did not originally file the motion to suppress because he did not then know any facts upon which he would have standing to object to the placement of the tracking device or the stop of the vehicle. He alleged that the agent’s testimony that the truck was in his possession when the tracking device was installed and that Gibson was seen driving the vehicle on several occasions, gave him standing to contest the installation of the device on the truck. The district court ruled Gibson had no standing to contest the installation of the device and that he had no standing to object to the stop.

After the conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court decided U.S. v. Jones in 2012 which held that the installation of a GPS tracking device on a target’s vehicle and its use to monitor the vehicle’s movement constitutes a search. In light of the Jones decision, Gibson argued all evidence obtained from the tracking device on the truck should be suppressed because the installation and use of the device constituted a search without a warrant. He maintained he had standing to challenge the search based on an expectation of privacy in the truck because he had possession and control of the truck when the tracking device was installed. The 11th Circuit found that because Gibson paid the insurance and maintenance and he often used the car with Burton’s consent, he had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the vehicle and standing to challenge the installation of the tracking device while the vehicle was in his possession, but he had no standing to challenge the use of the tracking device to locate the truck when it was moving on public roads and he was neither the driver or the passenger. Because he had no possessory interest when it was stopped, he lacked standing.

No double jeopardy where a prior conspiracy conviction overlaps
The codefendant raised a double jeopardy argument because he argued that a 2004 drug conspiracy conviction was part of the same time frame and overlapped the conspiracy that he was charged with committing in this case. He was sent to jail following his conviction and the evidence showed he rejoined the conspiracy. The 11th Circuit found no double jeopardy violation even though the defendant was arrested in between the two conspiracies. The court rejected the defendant’s contention that the conspirator must first withdraw and then rejoin before his renewed participation can constitute a new crime for double jeopardy purposes. Otherwise a conspirator, once tried for participation in a conspiracy, could renew his participation in the conspiracy for the rest of his life so long as he never affirmatively withdraws. At trial the judge instructed the jury that it could only find him guilty if it found he committed alleged acts after 2004, and this assured no double jeopardy for the same conduct.