United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
Victoria A. Roberts, United States District Judge
contends the Government was required to obtain a search
warrant supported by probable cause to acquire his cell-site
location information (CSLI), and could not rely on the Stored
Communications Act (SCA). 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d). The SCA
allowed the Government to obtain CSLI if it could demonstrate
“specific and articulable facts” to show
reasonable grounds for Government seizure.
relies wholly on Carpenter v. United States. 138
S.Ct. 2206 (2018). In Carpenter, the Supreme Court
recently announced that accessing more than six days of CSLI
constitutes a search and is protected by the Fourth
creates new law that, going forward, will require
investigators to have probable cause to obtain CSLI. However,
because the Government had objective good faith belief that
its conduct under the SCA was lawful, the CSLI is not subject
to the Carpenter pronouncement.
Motion is denied.
Factual and Procedural Background
faces two counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm (18
U.S.C § 922(g)(1)) and one count of Discharge of a
Firearm in furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense (18
U.S.C. §§ 924(c)). The Government plans to use the
evidence at trial to demonstrate that Williams was in the
vicinity of two shootings.
first occurred on October 12, 2014 at the Whitehouse
Nightclub. The Government alleges that Williams entered the
nightclub with a gun and fired at Lamont Calhoun, a patron,
hitting him in the head. Calhoun survived. The Government
alleges that again, on July 12, 2015, Williams pursued
Calhoun on the Lodge Freeway brandishing a firearm and, when
close enough to Calhoun's motorcycle, discharged the
weapon and hit Calhoun in the back. In its efforts to tie
Williams to the shootings, the Government obtained 127 days
of Williams' CSLI to verify his proximate location.
acquire the CSLI, investigators relied on the procedure
allowed under the SCA. There is no dispute that the
Government legally acquired Williams' CSLI under the SCA
2018, the United States Supreme Court announced
Carpenter. The Court noted CSLI grants the
government a remarkably easy method to track a person's
movement and through this their “'familial,
political, professional, religious, and sexual
associations.'” Id. (quoting United States v.
Jones, 565 U.S. 400, 415 (2012). The Court found such
scrutiny violated an individual's right to “have a
reasonable expectation of privacy in the whole of their
physical movements.” Carpenter, 2217.
Accordingly, the Court announced a new rule that the
Government obtaining CSLI constituted a search and can only
be legally obtained with a search warrant. 138 S.Ct. at 2217.
Going forward, law enforcement can no longer rely on the SCA
standard to obtain CSLI; it will need to demonstrate probable
Government plans to submit the CSLI as evidence at trial.
Williams responds with his Motion to Suppress.
contends that the rule announced in Carpenter
entitles his CSLI to retroactive protection in accordance
with Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314 (1987). In
Griffith, the Supreme Court found that new rules
announced by the Supreme Court apply retroactively to all
cases on direct review or not yet final. 479 U.S. at 328.
Williams argues that if the Court applies Carpenter
as it should - in accordance with Griffith - it must
find the Government committed a Fourth Amendment violation by
obtaining the CSLI ...