The Eye in the, uh, Bushes

The Fourth Amendment takes another one in the seat for the Great Lost Cause.

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.

Funny thing about this: I do have some personal experience with this practice. In my PI days, I used a small wireless camera almost exactly like this one that I would place whenever I needed to watch a spot that direct surveillance wouldn’t work for. I could monitor it from about 1/2 mile away and record footage for as long as the batteries lasted. This was more for workman’s comp/disability cases, but the application was similar enough. And yes, I would position it on a subject’s property if I could, even though I never disregarded a No Trespassing sign like the Feds did on this case.

Did I feel like a creep spying on people that way? I guess I probably should have, but it was business. From the perspective of our rotting civil liberties though, increased technological surveillance is totally inevitable as long as we keep this charade on drugs going.

Unfortunately, the judge in this case properly applied the open fields exception and it will probably hold up on appeal.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    I do hope that this makes it front of Scalia to rip a new one on. It’s such an obvious affront to your rights to be free from searches without a warrant.

    What next? They can just walk into your house while you’re a work and rifle through your computer on a fishing expedition because your 3rd cousin said something bad about a cop three years ago to his buddy in an email?

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  2. Thrill *

    I don’t see why not, SO. Those on the losing side of Lost Causes get more and more brutal as time goes on, especially when they have the power and resources of the federal government.

    I’m sorry to say though that Scalia isn’t going to be of much help on this one. He’s joined in on opinions upholding the open fields exception in the past. This crap won’t get turned back until the drug war ends.

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  3. Shiftuser

    The war on drugs needs to end. The issue should have never been a federal one in the first place. It should have been a 10th ammendment, states rights issue. Damn the commerce clause! it is heresey as it has been interpreted.

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  4. AlexInCT

    Everyone knows that this sort of violation of property and other rights is only bad when republicans are in charge. Otherwise, this stuff is all for our own good.

    As I have told everyone willing to listen: even if Romney is a total failure and as abysmally bad as Obama has proven to be, the fact that he is not a democrat will get the LSM finally to pull their heads out of their asses and report stuff like this with the proper chagrin it deserves. A Romney presidency will stop the media from ignoring the massive abuses of power by our government. Of course, the down side is that we will have to filter through the plethora of blatantly made up or horribly exaggerated stories, always to make republicans look bad, to find the few nuggets of truth.

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  5. AlexInCT

    The war on drugs needs to end.

    Yes it does, but it needs to end in a way that prevents drug users from becoming another “dependent category” being created that can not live outside of a massive government bureaucracy that they will tell us is needed to address all the addicts and other abusers. My bet is that this bureaucracy will cost more than the war does and it will give government so much power over our lives that it will all but make us drones of the state. For our own good, of course.

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  6. TxAg94

    Should be interesting in states where it’s perfectly legal (well, reasonably legal under some circumstances) to shoot trespassers. I suspect they’ll be a little more careful there. Oh, and if we find the camera on our propwrty do we get to keep it?

    I’m sure all the “rights” stay with the police, even on YOUR property.

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  7. Thrill *

    Oh, and if we find the camera on our propwrty do we get to keep it?

    I did once lose one of my wireless cameras. I had it stuck to the back of a stop sign and I think one of the neighbors had seen me put it there in the early morning hours. The police showed up and took it. I just quietly melted away….

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  8. Shiftuser

    “The police showed up and took it. I just quietly melted away….”

    What made you think that the back of a stop sign was a good place for a camera?

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  9. Thrill *

    The camera itself was only about the size of a Zippo and you could run it off a 9 volt. I’d wrap the battery in electrical tape and stick it onto a surface with two-sided tape. Very hard to see when you put it near the post behind the sign.

    Nobody really looks at the back of street signs either. Even if they saw it, they wouldn’t be able to tell what it was (usually). Sometimes hiding in plain sight works: utility poles, those gray phone company boxes in people’s yards, street light poles. However, you’re vulnerable when you set it up.

    I got burned pretty bad a couple of times, but that was the only time I lost a camera.

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  10. Kimpost

    I did once lose one of my wireless cameras. I had it stuck to the back of a stop sign and I think one of the neighbors had seen me put it there in the early morning hours. The police showed up and took it. I just quietly melted away….

    The camera itself was only about the size of a Zippo and you could run it off a 9 volt. I’d wrap the battery in electrical tape and stick it onto a surface with two-sided tape. Very hard to see when you put it near the post behind the sign.

    Nobody really looks at the back of street signs either. Even if they saw it, they wouldn’t be able to tell what it was (usually). Sometimes hiding in plain sight works: utility poles, those gray phone company boxes in people’s yards, street light poles. However, you’re vulnerable when you set it up.

    I got burned pretty bad a couple of times, but that was the only time I lost a camera.

    WTF? :)

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  11. AlexInCT

    Al least you didn’t put a voice/motion activated recording device over the bed of a female director position like the head of HR for the GE company I was working for some 11 years ago did. Husband found the thing when he saw thewhole in the roof tile and decided to inspct. So they pretended to go away for the weekend and caught the SOB breaking in to retrieve the tapes.

    The head of HR, a VP position, got a golden retirement parachute for his perverted actions, and GE paid the female director involved several million to avoid the story going public. The peons got told that nothing happened and they better stick to hat story if they wanted to keep their jobs. Only the little people get in big trouble over this sort of crap.

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