On October 29, a federal district court judge ruled that police can enter onto privately owned property and install secret surveillance cameras without a warrant.
The judge did set forth a few guidelines that must be followed before such activity would be permissible, but the fact that such a scenario is accepted as constitutional by a federal judge is a serious setback for privacy and for the Fourth Amendment.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
A report published by CNet provides background to this crucial constitutional ruling:
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 [U.S. Magistrate Judge William] 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.
Earlier, Drug Enforcement Agency officers walked around the rural property and installed several strategically placed “covert digital surveillance cameras.” Agents entered the land — land they knew to be privately owned — without permission and without a search warrant, in apparent violation of the Fourth Amendment.
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