Georgia Supreme Court says no to lifetime GPS for those on the registry

By Bill Rankin . . . The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday struck down a law requiring dangerous sexual predators who have completed their sentences to wear electronic monitors for the rest of their lives.

The requirement violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches, Chief Justice Harold Melton wrote for a unanimous court.

If a dangerous sexual predator were still on probation, the outcome could be different, the court said. That’s because such an offender who is still under a criminal sentence has a diminished expectation of privacy.

But offenders who have served all their time in prison and completed their probation should not have to attach an electronic monitoring device on their bodies so law enforcement can look for evidence of a crime against them without a warrant, the court said.

Collecting information about an individual 24 hours a day and seven days a week “constitutes a significant intrusion upon the privacy of the individual being monitored,” Melton wrote. It is “patently unreasonable,” the chief justice added.

Read the rest of the article here at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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    • #52849 Reply

      Too bad it carves out a huge exception for those on post-confinement supervision. I’m in TN and not on G.P.S., but the ruling is progress. At least in one context lifetime G.P.S. tracking is off-limits unless the state appeals to SCOTUS.

      What bothers me is that so many good rulings don’t apply to offenders like me who are on indefinite post-conviction supervision.

      According to TCA 39-13-525, I can petition the sentencing court to release me from supervision after serving 15 calendar years w/o any sort of violations, however, the court is under NO OBLIGATION to relieve me of lifetime supervision. I don’t see how one can justly have diminished rights indefinitely for life. That just seems so wrong.
      I could easily see the court surreptitiously rejecting one petition after another until I am dead because my offense involves a minor under 12 years of age.

      Would the indefinite nature of community supervision for life be open to a challenge of any kind? I mean diminishing my rights til I die seems awful arbitrary and capricious to me.

      • #52876 Reply

        You are wrong about the carve-out. There is no carve-out. Read the decision of the court and you will see that the entire subsection concerning GPS monitoring has been struck, unconstitutional on its face. After reading the order the first time, I made the same mistake, and wrote to my attorney to bemoan the fact that this only applied to those whose sentences had expired. He set me straight on that. It’s the last sentence on the first page that you need to read and understand.
        This ruling applies to all persons classified as sexually dangerous predator who are on the monitor solely because of their classification. It does not apply to those required to wear the monitor as a condition of parole or those who might be on house arrest or as a condition of bond. If you are on probation and you are required to wear a monitor as a condition of probation, tough luck. But if the only reason you are required to wear a monitor is because of OCGA 42-1-14(e), you are covered.

      • #52887 Reply
        Douglas Martinez

        I am in the same boat. I am on CSL so this does not apply to me. There is also an article talking about how they are used to spy on conversations. There is also major concern as to cancer and brain damage.  in United States v Jones SCOTUS ruled that placing a GPS device on private property is considered a search and seizure and cannot happen without a warrant. Were you ever served a warrant? Your body is considered private property and being forced to wear an ankle monitor not only violates this ruling under the 4th Amendment but also under the 5th Amendment freedom from incriminating self.

    • #52846 Reply
      Michael Miller

      Hopefully other states will follow suit. I Know SC has the same rule and even though the cost of living is cheaper in SC I moved to Maryland so that I would not have to continue to wear a monitor. Hopefully soon we won’t see any more of this nonsense. Once you have served your time you should get a fresh start. Still tough trying to get a job.

    • #52847 Reply

      Ha! I was just looking for a way to inform you all of my glorious victory in the Georgia Supreme Court. I am/was the defendant in this criminal case charged with tampering with an electronic monitoring device. I received this date the opinion of the court which declared subsecton OCGA 14-1-14(e) to be facially unconstitutional. My most excellent attorney, Mark Yurachek, won this victory for me.

      For over 3 years I have been out on bond on this criminal case. But as of today I am no longer under the thumb of the Superior Court of DeKalb County Georgia. At the risk of having this link deleted by the moderator, here’s the decision; read it for yourself.

      • #52945 Reply
        Ed C

        Joseph, kudos to you for having the courage to stick your neck out. One never knows how court decisions will go. I put you right up there with Von Behren in Colorado. If he’d lost the polygraph issue, he would have been in violation of supervised release and probably remanded back into custody.

        There must be many happy persons in Georgia thanks to you. Cheers.

        • #52957 Reply

          Thanks, Ed. This case was a challenge to the indictment, a demurrer, to challenge the constitutionality of the statute that made me have to wear this GPS ankle monitor for the rest of my life. I was charged with tampering with the device because the clip that holds the strap broke. I didn’t do anything to it – it just snapped for no apparent reason.
          It was inconceivable to me that I could lose this case. I’ve been in utter disbelief that this even happened to me to be classified as a sexually dangerous predator in the first place when I have never done anything even remotely predatory.
          To pay my attorneys and bondsman this bullshit has cost me nearly $25,000. I have been on this website for the last three years trying to get someone’s attention but I was totally ignored. But, now I have, through my excellent attorney Mark Yurachek, won this glorious victory in one of the most difficult courts in the country to win in, the Georgia Supreme Court. As of March 4, every person in Georgia classified as a sexually dangerous predator who was required to wear a GPS monitor due to OCGA 42-1-14(e) and has no other condition of probation, or bond, or home arrest, or parole that makes him have to wear such a monitor, can get on with his life free from a clunky piece of junk flopping around on his ankle with every step he takes, and without getting his pants hung up on the device every time he gets dressed or undressed. And we don’t have to sit like a dumbass for an hour and a half a day while we charge the battery in the government’s surveillance device for their benefit. I could go on and on…
          How do you like me now?

          • #52984 Reply
            Ed C

            Interesting that you said you felt losing was inconceivable. Everyone here knows that an SO is considered guilty until proven guilty. Your PO could simply have believed you and installed a new monitor, without involving a prosecutor. Problem solved. You were being sent an intimidating message regarding who is in power, and that it will cost you money and probably liberty to challenge that power.

            In order to have gotten to the GA Supreme Court, you must have lost at the lower levels. Had you simply acquiesced and gone away with your tail between your legs, you probably would have gotten a slap on the wrist. I think continuing took courage, as well as a perceptive lawyer. I also think every registered person–SVP or not– in Georgia should buy you a beer.

            I have a question as to who, or what agency, makes the SVP determination. I suspect it is some non-judicial bureaucratic agency, perhaps in the corrections department. This probably results in rather arbitrary determinations with little evidence or oversight. There may be some sort of due process challenge waiting in the wings. Fighting SO laws is like playing a game of Jenga. If we pull out enough blocks, the edifice one day will fall.

          • #53049 Reply

            You are correct about a government agency arbitrarily classifying persons as Level I, Level II, and Sexually Dangerous Predator. Challenging these statutes in Georgia is a twisted trail, to say the least.

            Sometimes you hit on the right combination of good and bad luck with these things. I have preserved my rights at every step of the way even though I have lost at every step of the way until I won this decision. This didn’t start as a civil action this time. It was a criminal charge of tampering with an electronic monitoring device, and a constitutional challenge to the law I was charged with violating. When you do a constitutional challenge as a defense against a criminal charge, there is no sovereign immunity. We did raise every issue you can think of, including due process, ex post facto, double jeopardy, 4th amendment search and seizure, etc. Due to having raised most of my issues previously and having been denied by a lower court, res judicata thwarted me on most issues. The only one that the court would consider on the merits was the 4th amendment search and seizure issue. And that is what I won on. Have you read the decision? It’s a dandy. The Georgia Supreme Court is very pro-government, pro-police, and it’s very difficult to win anything there. The reason I thought it inconceivable that I would lose this one is because I had a ton of precedent on my side, some of it from the very court I was in, the Georgia Supreme Court. For me to have lost this, the court would have had to ignore some of its own recent decisions. I sincerely believe that the Georgia Supreme Court has had enough of this bullshit and when the right case comes along and is briefed just right, they will strike all these abominable sex offender registration and classification statutes. A court can only consider what is raised and how it is briefed. I’ve heard courts say out loud that they would have ruled in the plaintiff’s favor if only they had been briefed on a certain issue. But, at that point, there are no do-overs for that poor sucker.
            I could go on and on about this but I don’t think this is the place to be writing a book.
            Btw, I went to the sheriff’s office today and got my monitor snipped off. It’s been on my leg flopping around, getting hung on my clothing for nearly 4 years. It feels so good to be rid of it. It was torture and I was suffering.

        • #53050 Reply

          Yes, there is rejoicing all across this state. When I was called to the sheriff’s office for removal of my GPS device, there were several others there for the same thing. When the deputy came out to get me (first), she told the crowd that I was the one who was responsible for their good fortune, I was the man of the hour, there were cheers and thank-yous. It felt pretty damn good.

          There are many news articles in print online about this. It’s a big deal around here. Winning something like this in this court is damn near impossible. But this court takes the constitution very seriously and this was a very ripe constitutional issue.

          • #53118 Reply
            Ed C

            Yes, I did read the decision. In some ways, the GA Supreme Court has written a template for arguments in other states. It often referenced decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, which which has the final say. There are other states, e.g. Florida and Oklahoma, with registration laws that are as odious as Georgia’s. Sounds like the deputy was as at least somewhat on your side. You deserved the cheers and glad-handing. Again, congratulations.

    • #52889 Reply
      Douglas Martinez

      What is the case? Nowhere does it say this so we can read it ourselves.

    • #53544 Reply

      Hello i found some interesting information on the Doj they have a report stating recidivism rates are 3.5% and yet don’t say anything about but yet it is on there website for anyone to see & it’s on website almost identical report 3.5% I don’t understand why then is the registry is still up n running?

      • #53576 Reply
        Ed C

        Hi Mike. Fear and loathing trump data. I am amazed at how resistant some people are to accepting information that doesn’t fit with their current world view. I recognize that we all are susceptible to confirmation bias. So I have looked for credible peer-reviewed studies indicating high recidivism rates, and found none.

        I once raised the recidivism issue with my PO who retorted that I must have been reading those “Canadian reports.” I realized I was beating my head against a brick wall. So I didn’t mention that results provided by those “sloppy” Canadian researchers agreed with data from the U.S. Probation office, the SMART study, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s report to Congress, and others.

        Prosecutors are frequently the source of selective statistical interpretations. An often quoted assertion in their briefs is that former sex offenders are 4 times more likely to commit a new sex crime than are other felons (probably also applicable to burglars). Rarely are the base numbers of 5.3% vs 1.8% included. Mark Twain popularized a quote from British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Taken in context, Twain was not arguing against statistics, but only distorted statistics.

    • #53605 Reply

      Hi i get what your saying but if all of us gather an make copies of all these reports and there are 53 studies done in the United States from every state and us government plus the doj and the guy who reported recidivism was 80% has retracted his report an now has done a study that shows recidivism is below 5% so we need to ban together and get this done

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