INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to decide an Indiana case questioning whether police must procure a judicial warrant to obtain a criminal suspect's historical location data from his or her wireless phone provider.
The nation's high court already agreed to address that issue when it convenes in October in a federal case originating out of a series of crimes committed in Michigan and Ohio.
But attorneys for Marcus Zanders, an Ohio man convicted in 2015 of robbing two southeastern Indiana liquor stores, believe the way Dearborn County officers accessed Zanders' location data provides a better basis for a Supreme Court ruling.
Specifically, the sheriff's office simply faxed a one-page form to Zanders' cell phone company and received his location records without first getting a court order, issuing an administrative subpoena or making any showing of reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
"Whether the Fourth Amendment applies to cell site location information is an issue of profound national importance ... making this case the ideal vehicle for resolving it," said Zanders' attorneys, including Tony Walker, of Gary's Walker Law Group.
In May, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled 3-2 that Hoosiers have no privacy expectation under the Fourth Amendment in location records pinpointing where their phones were used, since they have voluntarily conveyed that information to a third party, namely their phone companies.
At the same time, the state justices limited the applicability of their decision to only those situations where police have strong suspicion that a specific person committed a crime, the privacy intrusion is minimal and the needs of law enforcement justify the data request.