United States v. Riley, No. 16-6149 (6th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
A state court in Kent County, Michigan, issued an arrest warrant for Riley, having found probable cause to believe that he had committed armed robbery of a local store. Days later, Riley purchased a cell phone serviced by AT&T. A member of Riley’s family gave that phone’s telephone number to Riley’s girlfriend, who disclosed the number to the U.S. Marshal Service Grand Rapids Apprehension Team. Deputy Bowman obtained a state court order, compelling AT&T to produce telecommunications records of Riley’s cell phone under federal electronic-surveillance laws, 18 U.S.C. 2703, 3123, 3124. The government used Riley’s GPS location data to learn that Riley was hiding out at the Airport Inn in Memphis, Tennessee and arrested him about seven hours later, only after inquiring of the front-desk clerk to ascertain Riley’s specific room number. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of a motion to suppress. The GPS tracking provided no greater insight into Riley’s whereabouts than what Riley exposed to public view as he traveled “along public thoroughfares” to the hotel lobby. Riley has no reasonable expectation of privacy against such tracking and the tracking did not amount to a Fourth Amendment search.