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Arizona appeals court overturns drug convictions based on secret GPS tracking

PHOENIX — An Arizona appeals court has overturned a man’s drug
convictions, ruling that a warrant was needed to track a man’s whereabouts by
using a GPS device secretly placed on a borrowed car.

A search of the borrowed car occurred as Thomas Keller Mitchell was a target of
a 2010 drug investigation in Yavapai County.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 struck down law enforcement’s warrantless use of
GPS tracking in investigations, and Mitchell objected to use of evidence from
the search that turned up methamphetamine and marijuana.

However, the trial judge allowed it and Mitchell was convicted.

The Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the warrantless installation and use of
the GPS device on the borrowed car to monitor Mitchell’s movements was an
unlawful search under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.


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