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Man’s arguments supporting motion to suppress rejected by 7th Circuit

August 4, 2017

An Indiana man who ended up being criminally charged as a result of a Michigan-issued warrant placing a GPS locator on another man’s car lost his appeal challenging the validity of the Indiana warrant used to search his home.

Michigan police were tracking Mark Holst’s activity, believing he was selling meth and wanting to know where he obtained it. Holst went to Cory Castetter’s Indiana home and lingered in his driveway. This led police to obtain a warrant to Castetter’s home, which turned up meth, other drugs and around $62,000 in cash.

Castetter moved to suppress the evidence found from the warrant to search his home, claiming that the information derived from the Michigan-issued warrant placing the GPS locator on Holst’s car should be ignored. He claimed Michigan’s police lacked authority to monitor the car once it came into Indiana.

He also argued that the warrant issued in Michigan pertains to Holst only, so police were forbidden to learn who was doing business on Castetter’s property without a warrant based on his own activities.

The federal court in Fort Wayne rejected his claims, leading to Castetter’s conditional guilty plea and 108-month sentence. The record isn’t clear what Castetter’s official charges were.

He appealed, but the 7th Circuit affirmed the lower court. Judge Frank Easterbrook noted the Fourth Amendment does not mention anything about state lines. He also pointed out the judge who issued the warrant in Indiana did not say anything about Michigan police not having any business insinuating their GPS locators in this state.

Easterbrook went on to write that information about Holst’s driving went by radio to a receiver connected to the internet, which transcends state borders. The GPS satellites tracking Holst are also beyond state domain.

Castetter’s fallback argument was “equally weak,” the 7th Circuit found. All the police learned by monitoring the GPS device was the location of Holst’s car and Castetter lacked a privacy interest in that location, Easterbrook wrote.

“The Constitution is not offended if, by executing a warrant to search one person (such as Holst), police learn incriminating details about another (such as Castetter),” he wrote in United States of America v. Cory S. Castetter, 17-1327.
 

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