CSAO: Judiciary Committee - March 24, 2014 - H.B. No. 5587




March 24, 2014

The Division of Criminal Justice respectfully recommends and requests the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT for H.B. No. 5587, An Act Concerning Search Warrants. This legislation is offered as part of the Division’s 2014 Legislative Recommendations to address separate rulings by the United States Supreme Court and our Connecticut Supreme Court.

In United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. ____ (2012), the Supreme Court of the United States promulgated a requirement that law enforcement must obtain a search warrant in order to place a “tracking device,” such as a global positioning system, on a motor vehicle in the course of a criminal investigation. H.B. No. 5587 sets out the procedure for applying for and obtaining such a search warrant.

This is not a new practice nor is this legislation an entirely new law. GPS, or other tracking devices, have been utilized by law enforcement for some time. It is yet another example of how advances in technology can assist in the investigation of criminal activity and the apprehension of those responsible. H.B. No. 5587 responds to the Jones decision by amending our existing search warrant statutes to add the use of a GPS or other tracking device to those investigative tools whose use requires the issuance of search warrant. All of the protections and rights afforded to existing search warrant procedures apply to the use of tracking devices as well.

The second aspect of the bill is a response to the invitation openly issued to the General Assembly by our Connecticut Supreme Court in State v. Esarey, 308 Con. 819 (2013). This case, as explained by Justice Norcott in the Court’s opinion, raised the question of whether a Superior Court judge has the authority under existing law and constitutional provisions “to issue an extraterritorial search and seizure warrant for evidence contained within e-mail servers located in another state.” Although the court declined to explore the issue in coming to its resolution of Esarey, Justice Norcott stated that “this issue deserves further study by the legislature.”

H.B. No. 5587 will resolve this issue by amending the search warrant statutes to clarify the authority of a Connecticut state judge to issue a warrant for certain records held in a jurisdiction beyond the borders of this state. This in direct response to the invitation issued by Justice Norcott for further study and deliberation on this issue. Again, the Division would note that this is not a new concern but one that has become more common as technology advances rapidly and without any geographical restrictions. Nor is this establishment of a brand new law, rather is another step in the logical evolution of our search warrant law, and, as such, carries with it all of the rights and protections afforded by the existing law.

In conclusion, the Division of Criminal Justice respectfully requests the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT for H.B. No. 5587. We would be happy to provide any additional information or answer any questions the Committee might have.

Thank you.

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