Justices say 24/7 video surveillance violated man’s rights
DENVER (AP), Monday. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that officers installed a camera on a utility pole in the man’s backyard and monitored him for months without obtaining a warrant.
The justices said the 24-hour-a-day, 3-month-long surveillance of the Colorado Springs man’s front yard, house, driveway and part of his backyard violated his Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, The Denver Post reported. His conviction and 15-year-prison sentence for drug trafficking were overturned. The unanimous decision distinguishes between officers who watch suspects and officers who use technology to record an individual’s movements for long periods of time.
The court found that the man had a reasonable expectation to privacy in his yard even though some parts were visible to the public. The Colorado Springs Police Department should also have been issued a warrant for surveillance before installing the camera. It could zoom in and out to view over the 6-foot (1.8-meter) tall fence.
The justices also rejected the state’s argument that the surveillance wasn’t as intrusive as GPS tracking or the use of cellphone data, noting that constant surveillance “shares many of the troubling attributes of GPS tracking.”