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Va. court reconsiders police GPS use

Tom Jackman

Two weeks after the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that it was fine for police to use portable global positioning systems to track criminal suspects, the court has now decided to rehear the case, according to an order entered on Thursday.

The court ruled in the case of David L. Foltz Jr., a convicted sex offender whom Fairfax County police suspected might be assaulting women in the Falls Church area. Detectives placed a global positioning system device inside the bumper of his work van, then reviewed his movements and found he had been in the vicinity of a recent assault.

Then police followed him and actually arrested him in the process of attacking another woman.

Foltz was convicted of abduction with intent to defile and given a mandatory life sentence for his second sex-related conviction. His lawyers appealed, challenging the use of the GPS to track Foltz.

Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of Chief Judge Walter S. Felton Jr., and Judges Randolph A. Beales and James W. Haley Jr. found the use of the GPS did not violate Foltz's Fourth Amendment right to privacy.

But on Thursday, the appeals court declared "on its own motion" that the full 11-judge court would now hear the case, and instructed both sides to file briefs.

Foltz's appeal was reinstated, the brief order notes.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  | September 24, 2010; 4:53 PM ET
Categories:  Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, From the Courthouse, Tom Jackman, Updates  
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Good job Fairfax.

Posted by: jjgrah | September 24, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

The privacy issue can be easily fixed. It's only takes a judge that says: You x years in jail and you loose some of your privacy rights.

It's not that much different from loosing your right to vote after you have been convicted of a felony (disenfranchisement).

A compromise: A offender can choose of loosing some of his/her privacy or committed to a psychiatric hospital. Clearly the 'suspect' is this story has not learned his lesson in prison!

Posted by: zyprexia | September 25, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Putting a bird dog on a suspect's car is no different than following him. The tracker does not provide anything that an officer wouldn't see if he were following him/her. It merely allowes the allocation of several teams of surveillance officers and choppers for other needed purposes.

Posted by: madmike272 | September 25, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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