Justices To Consider Constitutionality of Imaging

  Justices To Consider Constitutionality of Imaging

Posted by FoM on February 19, 2001 at 11:34:04 PT
By Jeff Barnard, Associated Press  
Source: Nando Times 

Nine years ago, members of a narcotics task force stopped in the early morning darkness in front of Danny Lee Kyllo's house and scanned the house with a thermal imaging device. The task force was investigating whether Kyllo's neighbors were growing marijuana. But when they trained the thermal scanner on Kyllo's home, it showed indications of excessive heat. Based on that scan, electricity records and an informant, investigators got a search warrant to enter Kyllo's home, where they found more than 100 marijuana plants growing under high-intensity lights. 
Kyllo contends that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated because the officers did not obtain a search warrant to scan his house with the thermal imager. He pleaded guilty to a federal charge, but reserved the right to appeal the search. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on his appeal. Though Kyllo faces only a month in jail if the high court rules against him, experts say the case is likely to bring out an important new definition of the legal limits on police searches of the most sacred of all private places - the home. "In many ways, it is a question that is both scientific and metaphysical," said professor David Schuman of the University of Oregon School of Law. "Does this (scanner) take someone from outside (a home) and put them in or take information from inside and take it out?" "If the government is free to use technology to look inside our homes, there really won't be anything left of the right to privacy," said Dave Fidanque, executive director of the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In its brief, the government compared the thermal scan to a police officer watching a house from the outside, which does not require a warrant. "Thermal imagers do not literally or figuratively penetrate the home and reveal private activities within," the U.S. Solicitor General's Office wrote. "Unlike a hypothetical sophisticated X-ray device or microphone that could perceive activity through solid walls - observations that would amount to searches - a thermal imaging device passively detects only heat gradients on exterior surfaces." In past rulings, the high court has allowed police to proceed without a warrant when they put a radio beacon in a car to track its location, send a helicopter over private property to see inside a greenhouse, or use a flashlight to illuminate a darkened car. However, the court has required police to get a warrant before placing a microphone inside a house or on the outside of a telephone booth. Defense attorney Kenneth Lerner argues that thermal imaging amounts to looking behind closed doors. "Since we don't permit police to break into people's homes, should we permit them to use technology to accomplish the same thing?" he said. "The public justifiably expects that the walls of our homes sanctify a zone of privacy against the government, and represent physical barriers that assure our privacy," Lerner wrote in his brief. Lower court rulings have been mixed. State supreme courts have come down on both sides. Kyllo, now 35 and on disability with a shoulder injury, said he couldn't afford to fly to Washington to hear his lawyer plead his case, but hopes it will serve to protect people's privacy. "There's an old saying that a man's home is his castle," Kyllo said. "I know what I done was wrong. But I know what they're doing is wrong." For current U.S. Supreme Court decisions, visit: or Title: Justices To Consider Constitutionality of Thermal Image Scanning Source: Nando TimesAuthor: Jeff Barnard, Associated Press Published: February 19, 2001Copyright: 2001 Nando MediaWebsite: Article:Technology Redraws Privacy Lines Articles - Surveillance 

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Comment #7 posted by Imprint on February 19, 2001 at 20:34:07 PT:

Loosing freedom
Without a search warrant, sitting out front of your house to watch you, checking your energy usage, flying over your house, tapping your phone, using a thermal scanner are all violations to our right for privacy. And in order to get a search warrant the police would need probable cause; this would require them to actually do work and do a real investigation. But our police departments are full of second class citizens that are nothing more that SWAT want-a-be’s. We are loosing our rights to freedom, one piece at a time. I hope this guy wins his appeal. 
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Comment #6 posted by dddd on February 19, 2001 at 20:00:27 PT

Wait a minute
In my opinion,this thermal scanning is not even close to somehow beingconstitutionally innocent.At what point was the decision made to fund this crap?I dont remember voting on it,or hearing of my "represenative" Senator,orCongressman bringing up the issue?..(I have no "representation" in government.,and I say,"no taxation without representation!") silly of me.What really fries my old ass,,is what the hell are cops flying around withthermal scanners for?It's a perfect example of law enforcement being floodedwith money to buy toys of intrusion,to invade peoples privacy at any and all levels.As the public suggests reforming the absurd forfeiture laws,we hear the squealing of the swines who have been gorging at the trough.I'll bet the cost of one thermal scannerunit,would be enough to hire dozens of additional DARE zombies,or SWAT teams.These new swat guys could hang out in front of peoples houses,and make sure that they werent doing anythingsuspicios.Instead of spending all the money for thermal scanners,they could hire specialagents to monitor abnormal rates of pizza deliveries to people,which could indicate that potsmoking scums were foodtripping at a particular residence....Why not make people registerbefore buying Zig-Zags?,,or at least prove that they were using the rolling papers onlyfor legal tobacco,not wacky tabacky. For the cost of a couple of thermal imagers,and the necessary helicopters to install them in,you could probably afford to bribe a senator to come out in support of NORML....?..dddd
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Comment #4 posted by meagain on February 19, 2001 at 14:58:48 PT

The 4th
Thia is clearly unreasonable search and siezure  thank GOD the person is fighting back for US
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Comment #3 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on February 19, 2001 at 13:42:35 PT:

I Vote for Ugly
Certainly, it is not what I wish, but ours is a government that can never say, "Sorry, I was wrong." Duzt is correct: The bureaucracy never arranges its own retirement. It can only grow through self-aggrandizement.
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Comment #2 posted by Duzt on February 19, 2001 at 13:32:49 PT

why it's illegal
Marijuana is illegal because it provides jobs for the gov. You can legally brew your own alcohol (I brew beer) in your home, up to a certain amount per month, it's legal. Marijuana could be taxed and sold like any other legal drug. People could pay for a license to grow and sell, like alcohol. They could establish quality guidelines, it would be relatively easy to do. If the DEA does there job, and ends drub usage (which is impossible) they would no longer have a job to do. What other job is there that if you do your job, you won't have it anymore? It's about money and power, pure and simple, the same things that have befallen so many other governments throughout history. Either this will end, or things are about to get very ugly.
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Comment #1 posted by hippichic on February 19, 2001 at 12:10:33 PT

why marijane is illegal
i believe that the only reason marijuana is illegal is because the government can't tax it. they can't make any money off of it. if you could grow or make any kind of alcoholic beverage in your own home, it would be illegal too! but the gov't needs the money that they make off of us. i mean, if you think about it, they make ALOT of money busting these big dope dealers, because they turn around and put it right back on the streets. and when they pull you over and give out tickets and make these arrests, they earn "brownie points"....I mean.....the government sucks!!!!
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