United States v. Seerden

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Today we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in defense of a service member whose cell phone was searched and seized by the military in an unlawful manner.  As we have in the Jones case, the Graham case, the Zodhiates case, and others we explain how the Fourth Amendment first and foremost protects property rights, not some vague “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Read More

United States v. Ackerman

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. District Court, District of Kansas

Today, we filed an amicus brief in support of a motion to suppress evidence in a criminal case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.  The case is on remand from an appeal to the Tenth Circuit which resulted in a decision written by Judge (now Justice) Neil Gorsuch.  Gorsuch had pointed out that the search of an email with its attachments could constitute a violation of the email owner’s property interest protected by the Fourth Amendment, applying the Supreme Court’s United States v. Jones principle.  Our amicus brief pointed out that the Jones property principle is primary, but also, the search of the email violated the defendant’s privacy interest in the communications. Read More

Collins v. Commonwealth of Virginia

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a deeply flawed decision of the Virginia Supreme Court involving the Fourth Amendment.  The cased involved different ways that courts evaluate the constitutionality of searches and seizures.  The search in this case was of a motorcycle under a tarp located what is known as the “curtilage” of a home, or the area immediately surrounding it.  Under the deeply flawed rule the Virginia Supreme Court applied, the Fourth Amendment has no bearing at all whenever an automobile or anything that resembles an automobile is being searched, irrespective of where the automobile is located. Read More

Graham v. United States

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a petition for certiorari in a case involving a Fourth Amendment violation where a person’s whereabouts were tracked for months by seizing his cell site location information. We argued against the Supreme Court’s “third-party doctrine,” which holds that a person does not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” if he voluntarily gives information to third parties. Further, the brief relied on the Court’s recently reinvigorated property rights basis of the Fourth Amendment, urging the Court to consider a person’s cell phone data and location as his property even though not a physical object. Read More

Article: “Manuel v. Joliet: Blocking the Courthouse Door to Victims of Police Misconduct”

Michael Harless Publications

This morning, the American Thinker published Jeremiah Morgan’s article about the amicus brief we filed in Manuel v. City of Joliet.  The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in this case on Wednesday, October 5.  The article explains why victims of police misconduct should be able to bring a Fourth Amendment based suit when police fabricate evidence to obtain an indictment.

Wikimedia Foundation v. National Security Agency

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today,we filed our third brief opposing NSA’s program of “Upstream” Internet surveillance of Americans.  Our brief urges the Fourth Circuit to reverse the decision of the District Court in Maryland which found that neither Wikimedia Foundation — which runs Wikipedia — nor the other plaintiffs in the case, had standing to challenge that surveillance.

Birchfield v. North Dakota

Michael Harless U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the High Court to reverse decisions from the Supreme Court of North Dakota and Minnesota which authorized police to force drivers to submit to warrantless blood and breath tests.  We urge the Court to apply to principles of its prior decisions in United States v. Jones, and Florida v. Jardines, which re-established the property basis of the Fourth Amendment.  We oppose reliance on the modern notion that the Fourth Amendment only protected a nontextual “expectation of privacy” — a false notion on which the two state supreme courts relied.

SCOTUSBlog discusses our Brief in Rodriguez v. United States

Michael Harless Press Coverage

SCOTUSblog published a preview of the oral argument in Rodriguez v. United States, and discussed our amicus brief:
“One amicus brief was filed in support of each side. While the parties avoid the question whether a dog sniff is a “search,” the U.S. Justice Foundation argues in support of Rodriguez that the Jardines and Jones decisions should call Caballes into question on this point, and that a dog sniff of one’s car should not be allowed without independent Fourth Amendment justification. Pitching a portion of its argument, apparently, at common-law enthusiasts such as Justice Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas, this amicus brief cites political philosopher John Locke from 1690 (about property rights, not cars, of course).” Read More

Herb Titus speaks on Search and Seizure Law

Michael Harless Appearances

Herb Titus was a featured speaker on May 2, 2014 at the 8th Annual Conference on Eminent Domain held at Tides Inn, Irvington, Virginia on May 1 and 2. Consistent with the theme of this year’s conference – Charting New Territory — Herb’s topic was “Can a 4th Amendment Search and Seizure Become a 5th Amendment Taking?” Read More

American Thinker publishes article — The Wurie Case: Restoring the Property Basis of the Fourth Amendment

Michael Harless Publications

This morning, the American Thinker published an article by Robert Olson, Herb Titus, and Bill Olson about the property rights basis of the Fourth Amendment and how it bears on the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of warrantless searches of cell phones. We previously filed an amicus brief in the case addressing this issue — United States v. Wurie.

U.S. v. Wurie — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On April 9, 2014, we filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of United States v. Wurie. The issue before the court is whether arresting officers can search the cell phone of a person arrested without a warrant. However, the underlying issue in Wurie and its companion case, Riley v. California, is whether the Court will continue to apply its evolving reasonable expectation of privacy test birthed in Katz v. United States to searches incident to arrest, or instead continue with its restoration of property principles begun inUnited States v. Jones and Florida v. Jardines. Read More