Florida Convict Appealing 162 Year Sentence Over Warrantless GPS Evidence
from the tumbling-down dept
A couple of months back, Tim Cushing wrote about a Massachusetts court finding that warrants are indeed required in order for law enforcement to get cell phone GPS data for use in a criminal case. That victory for the Fourth Amendment rights of US citizens was bound to have wide-ranging repercussions within the legal and penal systems. We didn’t have to wait long, as one Florida man is appealing his 162 year prison sentence because prosecutors relied in part on locations data obtained without a warrant in his trial.
Lawyers for a south Florida man serving almost 162 years in prison for his role in a string of armed robberies told a U.S. appeals court that prosecutors had no right to use cell phone location data during his trial and the double life sentence without parole was cruel and unusual punishment. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that authorities should have had to show probable cause and obtain a search warrant before seeing cellphone records for 22-year-old Quartavious Davis. The case comes as federal circuit and appeals courts around the country have been wrestling with cellphone privacy issues.
Now, it should be noted that the prosecution also had the testimony of several alleged accomplices of Davis’, who all received shorter sentences for their cooperation, and this post isn’t intended to proclaim his innocence. In fact, he may very well be guilty, which is what makes the government’s cavalier attitude towards gathering evidence all the more egregious. If this guy is guilty and walks on a technicality, when better police work could have kept him behind bars, that’s on the government.
That said, regardless of his guilt, the sentencing aspect of this case is insane.
The unusually long sentence stemmed from a controversial practice known as “stacking,” in which each charge in an indictment is counted as a separate crime. The policy transforms a first-time offender into a “habitual criminal” subject to multiple sentences and mandatory sentencing guidelines.
The district court judge said if he had been able to make the decision himself, “he would have given him 40 years with parole,” said Shapiro.
Nothing like a little prosecutorial trick to simultaneously make a name for one’s self and ensure that justice takes a backseat to politicizing the life-sentence of a man prosecuted with warrantless GPS data.