Supreme Court: Attaching ankle monitor a Fourth Amendment search

By Anne Blythe . . .A North Carolina program that uses GPS to monitor sex offenders will be scrutinized again by the state’s highest court.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered the N.C. Supreme Court to reconsider a legal challenge by Torrey Dale Grady, a sex offender arguing that his constitutional rights are being violated by the program.

The ultimate decision in the case has the potential to cause a ripple effect across the country. More than 40 states have adopted laws in the past decade that call for some type of GPS monitoring of sex offenders. Some states have expanded the programs to monitor gang members and domestic abusers.

North Carolina is one of eight states that subject some offenders to lifetime monitoring.

Grady, 36, of Wilmington, argues that requiring him to wear an electronic monitor around his ankle is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which bans unreasonable searches and seizures.

Grady was accused in 2006 in New Hanover County of statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a child. He pleaded guilty to one count of taking indecent liberties with a child and was sentenced to almost three years in prison. He was released in 2009.

That offense came after Grady was convicted in 1997 of a second-degree sexual offense. He was 17 at the time, and the registry does not list the age of the victim.

The two convictions classify him as a recidivist under North Carolina law.

In May 2013, after a 20-minute hearing, a N.C. Superior Court judge ordered him to a lifetime of monitoring.

Grady’s lawyers say he must wear the monitor at all times, including while it is charging, which can take as long as six hours.

Attorneys for Grady argued that the monitoring he is subject to is so extreme that it constitutes an illegal search.

The U.S. Supreme Court justices agreed and sent the case back to the N.C. Supreme Court for a fuller hearing on that topic.

“The state’s program is plainly designed to obtain information,” the justices ruled in an unsigned opinion. “And since it does so by physically intruding on a subject’s body, it effects a Fourth Amendment search.”

That conclusion, the justices stated, did not decide the ultimate question of the constitutionality of the North Carolina program.  (See full article in the News & Observer) (Per curiam opinion: Grady v North Carolina (2015))

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    • #11497 Reply
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      Walt Howard

      There are so many things transpiring around the Country concerning those of us forced to register that it’s difficult to find consistency within the laws. Fundamentally, all of these registration laws violate due process and every protection flowing from within those protections. Unfortunately, we have fragmented organizations where people simply disagree with each other, and to some extent, as result, sabotage the efforts being made to force sensible solutions. Here in Massachusetts, ankle bracelet trackers have been deemed to be unsupportable and wasteful. It’s amazing how our lawmakers don’t consider waste while enacting these nonsense laws and policies, but, oh well, former offenders would rather stand by and take a wait and see approach to life rather than being a part of the necessary changes. As long as infighting and disparity continues from within the halls of these organizations, I’m out!

    • #11498 Reply
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      Will Gurganus

      All of these laws passed are not protecting society. I can understand monitoring a repeat sex offender, but for me and many others; we just made ONE bad choice and are punished for life. Every crime from murder to burglary…… The individual does his/her time and that is it. I moved from NC to SC because NC court ordered me to put a GPS device on my ankle for life and pay $30/month. I moved to SC and I don’t have to do that bs, but I have to pay the state of SC $150 every year on my birth month to live here. I don’t know about you, but this is extortion; if I don’t or cant pay $150 I go to jail for sex offense violation. My crime happened in 2003 and is 13 years ago, I don’t make irresponsible decisions that I made when i was 20 (age of crime I was 22) and I’m 35 now. I made one bad choice and I literally have to pay to live here and watch over my shoulder, for life. Sex Offenders are stripped of all of their America Rights and publicly shamed and constantly turned down for jobs when a background check is done. I can only hope some kind of reform is done and I am relieved of this burden and be a FREE AMERICAN.

    • #41261 Reply
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      Joseph

      I have a case pending in Georgia Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of OCGA 42-1-14 regarding GPS monitoring devices for sexually dangerous predators and the entire statute generally. My case number is: S18A1211. It was docketed May 9, 2018. I should win this case and when I do at the very least every registered citizen who was classified as a sexually dangerous predator by the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board (SORRB) will have to be reclassified by his sentencing court using the criteria in effect prior to July 1, 2006. I have an excellent paid attorney with lots of experience in this area.

      I would have no objection if the ACLU or any other organization would like to file an amicus brief on my behalf.

      • #47697 Reply
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        Joseph Park

        Oral arguments were heard in my case on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. It seemed to go very well for me and bad for the state. Many questions were asked by the Justices of the Georgia Supreme Court, and it was evident that they took a dim view of the whole ankle monitoring thing and the state’s ability to do this with persons whose sentences have expired, who are no longer on probation or parole.
        As important as this case is to civil libertarian organizations such as the ACLU, Southern Center for Human Rights, and to NARSOL itself, I got absolutely no support of any kind from anybody. Thanks.

    • #67968 Reply
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      Freddie Rahn

      Okay, okay. Many offenders are paying quite a bit of money to attorneys who guarantee the Georgia Supreme Court taking SORRB to task on ankle monitors. I requested a Ten Year Rule” review of my case. I sent ten year poly report, documentation of classes attended and completed. My crime although characterized as child molestation was actually public indecency in front of a class of fifteen year old girls in 2004. They refused to reclassify me and was very snippy about my question: “Can you give me the viable reasons why you feel I am going to re-offend.” They refused to answer my question. I had other misdemeanors in public indecency so they classified me as a sexual predator. The odd thing is I got out of jail in August of 2008, yet the SORRB board waited until 2012 to classify me. So, if I was such a danger to society (LOL) why wait years before classifying me. My attorney said they are understaffed. Well then, use common sense pick the most egregious offenders first and classify them. My question is where does the ankle monitor debate stand in Georgia. Are they unconstitutional or not?

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