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United States v. Taylor

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 14, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DWAN RASHID TAYLOR, Defendant-Appellant

Argued December 17, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 1:12-CR-00042-001 -- Jane E. Magnus-Stinson, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Barry D. Glickman, Attorney, James R. Wood, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Indianapolis, IN.

For Dwan Rashid Taylor, Defendant - Appellant: Sara J. Varner, Attorney, Indiana Federal Community Defenders, Inc., Indianapolis, IN.

Before WILLIAMS, SYKES, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 514

Per Curiam.

Dwan Taylor appeals the denial of his motion to suppress drugs and guns that the police found in his storage locker pursuant to a search warrant. Indianapolis police learned the location of the storage locker by monitoring a Global Positioning System (" GPS" ) unit that they attached to his car without a warrant in 2011. That was before the Supreme Court held that attaching a GPS device to a car for purposes of gathering information was a search under the Fourth Amendment. See United States v. Jones, 132 S.Ct. 945, 181 L.Ed.2d 911 (2012). Because the officers used the GPS monitor in objectively reasonable reliance on binding appellate precedent in effect at the time, the suppression motion was properly denied.

I. Background

In June 2011 Detective Sergeant Garth Schwomeyer of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department received a tip that Taylor possessed cocaine and firearms. Schwomeyer checked Taylor's criminal history and learned that he had been convicted in 1997 for possessing cocaine. Schwomeyer then conducted surveillance at an address in Indianapolis that was linked to Taylor and observed what he believed to be a drug deal. He did not recognize the people involved, but when he ran the license plates of their cars, he discovered that two cars were registered to men who also had been convicted of possessing or trafficking cocaine.

Schwomeyer continued to investigate Taylor over the next three months. A confidential informant reported that Taylor was trafficking kilogram quantities of cocaine, and a fellow officer told Schwomeyer that Taylor associated with cocaine traffickers. In addition, Taylor's phone records reflected that his most frequent contact had been convicted in 2006 of dealing cocaine.

Based on Schwomeyer's investigation, a deputy prosecutor for Marion County submitted a petition to the Marion County Superior Court in September 2011 requesting judicial approval to attach a GPS unit to Taylor's car for a period of 60 days. The petition stated that the GPS device would be attached to the exterior of the car (" inside of a fender" ) with " a magnet and/or straps," that it would be installed and later removed " while the vehicle was either in a public place or upon private property where members of the general public would have access to [the] vehicle," and that the device " would be powered

Page 515

either by an internal battery or by connecting [it] to the battery of the vehicle." In support of the petition, the deputy prosecutor submitted an affidavit from Schwomeyer describing his investigation and also an affidavit from Officer Chris Cavanaugh, who explained the operation of the GPS unit. Officer Cavanaugh attested that the GPS device could collect location data at a specific interval (for example, every four seconds) and that officers could later ...


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