Two District Court Rulings That Cell-Site Data Not Protected Under the Fourth Amendment

On Tuesday, DOJ filed a brief in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in United States v. Antoine Jones, on remand from the Supreme Court, on the question of whether cell-site location information is protected under the Fourth Amendment. It’s a good brief, I think, and I was particularly intrigued by the appendices. The appendices included two recent unpublished federal district court decisions on Fourth Amendment protection for cell-site data. To my knowledge, neither opinion has been public before — or if they were public, they are not on Westlaw. Here they are for those interested:

1) United States v. Gordon (D.D.C. February 2012) (Urbina, J.) (ruling, shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision in Jones, that cell-site information is not protected by the Fourth Amendment because Smith v. Maryland is controlling)

2) In re Application of the United States (D.D.C. October 2011) (Lamberth, J.) (redacted version of ruling filed under seal) (ruling after the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Maynard but before Jones that cell-site information is not protected under Smith v. Maryland, and distinguishing Maynard on the ground that cell-site data is much less revealing and detailed about a person’s life than is GPS information).

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