Saturday, November 26, 2016

MN Court of Appeals Rules GPS Tracking Order Not Legal Equivalent of Search Warrant

The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that an order authorizing installation of a GPS tracking device on vehicle owned by a person suspected of hunting and big game violations was not the legal equivalent of a search warrant because there was no contemporaneous finding of probable cause in the application procedure and affirmed the lower court's finding that it amounted to an unconstitutional warrantless search and suppressed all resulting evidence.

In State v. Liebl,--- N.W.2d ----, A16-0618, 2016 WL 6077268 (Minn. Ct. App. Oct. 17, 2016) an officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources submitted to the issuing court a signed and sworn application requesting judicial authorization, pursuant to Minn.Stat. § 626A.37 (2014), to covertly install and monitor a global positioning system (GPS) mobile tracking device on a truck owned by Joshua Liebl.

Liebl was suspected of and the application recited various criminal offenses including taking big game without a license, trespassing, the unlawful use of artificial lights to take big game, i.e., ‘shining,’ and transporting illegally taken big game.” The application also recited the “facts and circumstances” that led the conservation officer to suspect Liebl of these criminal violations of Minnesota's game and fish laws (hunting crimes), as well as the fact that the officer had received multiple citizen reports that implicated Liebl in hunting crimes, physical corroborating evidence and the officer's belief that using GPS to “track[ ] the movements of [Liebl's truck] w[ould] facilitate the investigation of [Liebl's suspected hunting crimes] and that the information likely to be obtained by monitoring the [GPS] device [would be] relevant to the on-going criminal investigation.” The same day, the court issued the requested order (tracking order), which complied with the relevant statutory mandates, under Minn.Stat. § 626A.37, subds. 2–4, as to contents, time period and extensions, and nondisclosure of such orders".  Id.

Approximately two weeks later the GPS tracking device was covertly installed on defendants vehicle and its movements were monitored for 13 days thereafter when the officer used the tracking information, inter alia, to obtain a search warrant of defendants vehicle and residence.  Following execution of the search warrant and seizure of incriminating evidence including 2 deer carcasses and approximately 20 sets of antlers, defendant was arrested and vehicle seized for forfeiture.

Defendant then moved to "...suppress the state's evidence and to dismiss the charges against him, arguing that the evidence resulting from conservation officers' GPS tracking of his truck must be suppressed because the GPS tracking was an unreasonable search under both the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions. Liebl also argued that Minn.Stat. § 626A.42 (2014) provided an independent basis for suppression of the evidence resulting from the GPS tracking.  In opposition, the state denied the applicability of Minn.Stat. § 626A.42 on the facts of this case; argued that the GPS tracking was a reasonable search because it was conducted in compliance with Minn.Stat. §§ 626A.35–.39 (2014); and alternatively argued that, even if the GPS tracking was an unreasonable search, the resulting evidence nonetheless was admissible under a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule."

In  affirming the district court's suppression of evidence in this case the court of appeals held "Because the tracking order was not based on a probable-cause finding by the issuing court, the tracking order was not a valid substitute for a search warrant. Consequently, we reject the state's legal-equivalency argument and conclude that conservation officers' warrantless GPS tracking of Liebl's truck was an unreasonable search that violated U.S. Const. amend. IV, irrespective of compliance with Minn.Stat. §§ 626A.35–.39 and existence of probable cause."  The Court of Appeals went on to hold that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule  based on law enforcement's reliance on the "pattern and practice" regarding warrantless tracking devices in Minnesota, did not apply in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in  United States v. Jones, ––– U.S. ––––, 132 S.Ct. 945, 949, 181 L.Ed.2d 911 (2012) (“[T]he Government's installation of a GPS device on a target's vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a ‘search’ ” within the meaning of U.S. Const. amend. IV).

Alejandro Escovedo "Burns Something Beautiful" With A Little Help From His Friends

On his strongest release since 2001's "Man Under the Influence" and first release of new material in nearly 4 years (a lifetime to hardcore AE fans) Alejandro Escovedo and his collaborists turn out a great but not perfect work of art.  I use the term "art" intentionally for a number of reasons and say "not perfect" because rock and roll isn't supposed to be perfect.  Striving for perfection, doing too many takes of anything, can squeeze the life or human element out of a piece of art.  Perhaps that is why ancient rug makers would intentionally miss a stitch. The state of being human is imperfection.

I say art because Alejandro's music career has always been incredibly, well, artistic.  Escovedo's solo work has been richly diverse  in genres, influences and instrumentation performed with a cavalcade of the finest side musicians who seem to congregate around Austin like moths to a flame.  Escovedo's music can be intellectually stimulating with intelligent lyrics and complex music ranging in styles and instrumentation from classical to punk and strings to thrashing guitars.

What makes "Burn Something Beautiful" somewhat unique among
works of art is that it is a collaborative effort that worked out very well.  This caused me to think of a television interview I saw years ago with then Sopranos actor and long time E Street Band guitarist, Steve Van Zandt.  Responding to a question why he thought the Sopranos was such an artistic success, Van Zandt credited it, in part, to the fact that the Sopranos, like  Springsteen's music, was the product of one person's, David Chase's vision, adding "greats works of art are rarely created by committee".   That line has stuck with me ever since.   "Burn Something Beautiful" is the exception that proves the rule.

Produced by Peter Buck and Scott McGaughey and recorded by Adam Selzer at the Type Foundary in Portland, the abum features a cast of talented like mind musicians (Escovedo, Buck and Kurt Bloch on guitars, McGaughey on bass, John Moen on drums, Steve Berlin, sax with Kelly Hogan and Corin Tucker, vocxals and back-up vocals) who all connect to create an album that has been on my computer and in my car for two weeks straight and I still am not tired of listening to it.  I hear something new almost everytime I listen and something very rare for me, it had me singing along to the refrains as I painted the trim on my house.  Maybe it is what the listener brings to a piece of music but on Heartbeat Smile I can hear influences as wide ranging as early Who in the backing vocals to the track's ending guitar lick reminiscent of "Junior's Farm".  The influences I hear elsewhere on the cd include Tom Waits, Beatles "the love we take ...", Iggy and the Stooges, NY Dolls (Johnny Thunders) and Velvet Underground or more accurately post Velvet Lou.

On Wednesday, November 30th at 8pm the Austin City Limits TV channel on YouTube will be live streaming the taping of Escovedo performing Burn Something Beautiful with the musicians who played on the album.  Having just seen Alejandro perform Burn Something Beautiful at the Dakota Jazz Bar in Minneapolis on November 15, 2016 with a brand new touring band, this is a show you do not want to miss.`

Friday, November 25, 2016

Florence Henderson's Greatest Role

Saddened to learn of the passing of Florence Henderson.  Although best known for her role as the mother on the insipid sitcom "The Brady Bunch" she also had a good, if not dark, sense of humor as this self-deprecating cameo in the masterpiece "Shakes the Clown" reveals.  RIP.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Trump Right To Be Concerned About Voter Fraud As His Supporter Arrested for Voting Twice In Iowa

Staying on message has again paid off for Donald Drumpf and the Republican lackeys who still support him.  After years of complaining of nearly non-existent voter fraud in this country as cover for the Republicans thinly veiled pretext for voter ID laws and other voter suppression tactics we finally have proof that actual voter fraud exists.  Today the Des Moines Register editorialized:

 Iowans can vote early in this year’s general election, but they cannot vote often. Unless they want to spend some time in jail and perhaps lose the right to vote entirely.
Terri Lynn Rote of Des Moines was arrested last week on suspicion of casting two ballots for the upcoming election: one at the Polk County Election Office and one at a satellite voting location. The 55-year-old woman was booked Thursday on a first-degree charge of election misconduct and released Friday after posting bond.

Iowa Code Chapter 39A rightly contains unforgiving language about offenses with the potential to affect the election process, including voting or attempting to vote more than once in the same election. Such wrongdoing should “be vigorously prosecuted and strong punishment meted out through the imposition of felony sanctions which, as a consequence, remove the voting rights of the offender.”

Iowans will be watching to see if Rote, a registered Republican who supports Donald Trump for president, is vigorously prosecuted. Because she certainly should be.
Rote is not an elderly person with dementia who forgot she had already voted. It appears she knew exactly what she was doing. She told Iowa Public Radio she feared her first ballot for Trump would be changed to a vote for Hillary Clinton. So she went and cast another one. “The polls are rigged,” she said.

The polls are rigged? Where in the world would she get an idea like that?
From her favored presidential candidate, of course.

Donald Trump has repeatedly used the term “rigged” in reference to this election, even going so far as to say he would not accept the final results unless he wins. His website includes a form to sign up as a poll watcher on Election Day to help stop “Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.”
The irresponsibility of calling into question the integrity of this country’s voting process prompted Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, also a Republican, to dispute the claim. “I take the integrity of our elections very seriously,” he said. “I can assure you Iowa’s elections are not rigged." A slew of research has found voter fraud to be close to non-existent.

Unfortunately, facts are not the strong suit of the Republican presidential nominee. And Rote either believed the lies or used them as an excuse when she was caught. Meanwhile, this is the first election in 12 years that Polk County auditor Jamie Fitzgerald can remember having to report potential voter fraud.

The irony, of course, is the Des Moines woman was arrested and charged. That is proof the method for voting in this country — a decentralized system with thousands of different electoral jurisdictions — works well. Not even an avid Trump supporter can get away with trying to cheat it.

Well said by the major newspaper in a state leaning for Mr. Drumpf.

In other reports of Republican based voter suppression shenanigans, a lawsuit was filed in North Carolina alleging that individual objections are being made against thousands of minority registered voters in a greatly disproportionate number to non-minorities.  If you stop and think that there are more Democrats than Republicans and minorities are disproportionately Democrats it doesn't take a genius to figure out where the objections are coming from. Pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act:

 "A State shall complete, not later than 90 days prior to the date of a primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters."