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U. of Rich. L. Rev.


For more than two months beginning in late December of 2005, police officers in New York State continuously monitored the location and movements of Scott Weaver's van using a surreptitiously attached global positioning system ("GPS") device, known as a "Qball."' The reason Weaver was targeted for police surveillance has never been disclosed. 2 In addition, law enforcement made no attempt to justify the heightened scrutiny of Weaver by seeking the pre-authorization of a warrant from a neutral magistrate.3 Rather, for sixty-five days, the police subjected Weaver to intense surveillance without oversight, interruption, or explanation. 4 More than a year after the round-the-clock tracking ended, Weaver was charged with, and convicted of, two burglaries.5 At trial, the prosecution introduced evidence obtained from the Qball.6 The defense fought to keep the evidence out, asserting that the placement and monitoring of the Q-ball constituted an impermissible search under state and federal law. 7 The trial court * rejected this claim.8 But in 2009, the New York Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the police action constituted an unconstitutional search. 9 Though the New York court extensively discussed the strictures of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, it ultimately grounded its decision in the protections afforded by the state constitution. 10 The court overturned Weaver's conviction and ordered a new trial (from which the GPS tracking evidence will be excluded)."