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Nevada High Court says Police Can Hide Monitoring Devices on Cars Without Warrant

April 28, 2002

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Nevada High Court says Police Can Hide Monitoring Devices on Cars Without Warrant

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BRENDAN RILEY, Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police can hide electronic monitoring devices on peoples' cars without a warrant for as long as they want.

The 5-2 majority opinion, written by Justice Deborah Agosti, said attaching the device to the bumper of a Las Vegas man's car to track his movements did not constitute unreasonable search or seizure under Nevada's Constitution.

Frederick Osburn pleaded guilty to open or gross lewdness, possession of burglary tools and four counts of possession of child pornography and was sentenced in 2000 to up to 10 years in prison.

He appealed, arguing some evidence should be barred because it was based partly on information police gathered from the electronic monitoring.

Osburn said federal law may permit warrantless monitoring, but asked for a finding that the Nevada Constitution provides greater protection.

The majority cited a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that there's ``no reasonable expectation of privacy'' when it involves the exterior of a car. In Osburn's case, the car was parked on a public street.

Justices Bob Rose dissented, writing that the ruling gives too much authority to police.

``There will be no requirement that the monitor be used only when probable cause _ or even a reasonable suspicion _ is shown, and there will be no time limit on how long the monitor will remain,'' Rose said.

In some cases, he added, such devices ``will be used to continually monitor individuals only because law enforcement considers them 'dirty.'''

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