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Steve Kilar, 602-773-6007,

April 14, 2017


PHOENIX — The American Civil Liberties of Arizona late Thursday filed a brief with the Arizona Supreme Court urging the justices to use the Arizona Constitution’s express right to privacy to protect Arizonans from government intrusion, especially when relying on existing interpretations of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment could lead to illogical results.

The ACLU’s amicus brief in State v. Jean argues that the Arizona Supreme Court should interpret the Arizona Constitution’s privacy protections more broadly than the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The Arizona Constitution, unlike the U.S. Constitution, specifically states that people have a right to remain undisturbed in their private affairs.

“When Arizona adopted its Constitution, a choice was made to include a specific protection for personal privacy,” said ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Kathy Brody. “The drafters of our state’s Constitution could have copied the language of the Fourth Amendment, but they didn’t. We argue that distinction was intended to give Arizonans greater protection from unwarranted government snooping.”

“It’s time for the Arizona Supreme Court to begin vigorously employing the privacy protections in the Arizona Constitution to offer people a more robust defense from government overreach, particularly in situations where the privacy analysis is more complicated under the U.S. Constitution,” Brody said.

Emilio Jean was convicted of crimes related to the transportation and sale of marijuana. His conviction was supported by evidence collected after law enforcement placed a GPS tracking device on a commercial truck without a warrant. Jean, who was a driver and passenger of the truck, argued that the warrantless tracking over several days violated his privacy rights. The trial court and the Arizona Court of Appeals, however, determined Jean could not challenge the use of the GPS device because he had no reasonable expectation of privacy in a vehicle he did not own or fully control—a stumbling block that has been created through interpretations of the Fourth Amendment. Jean appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

“Although we agree with Jean that the data collection in this case violates the Fourth Amendment, we do not believe the Arizona Supreme Court needs to make that determination,” said Stefan Palys, a partner in the Phoenix office of Stinson Leonard Street LLP and co-counsel on the brief. “Because privacy is specifically stated as a fundamental right in Arizona’s Constitution, there should be no need for the justices to look to the federal Constitution.”

The ACLU of Arizona’s amicus brief in State v. Jean available here.