The Washington man who was at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling over GPS tracking will remain locked up pending his fourth trial, a federal judge ruled today.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle concluded no condition of release would “reasonably assure” the safety of the public. The defendant, Antoine Jones, has remained in custody since his arrest in late 2005 for his alleged role in a drug trafficking ring.
Prosecutors brought Jones to trial three times since then. After the first mistrial in 2007, prosecutors a year later landed a conspiracy conviction and a life sentence. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in 2010, erased the victory.
A three-judge panel declared the government violated Jones’s Fourth Amendment rights through the warrantless use of a Global Positioning System tracking device. Investigators monitored Jones’s movement 24 hours a day for a month. The government used the data to link Jones to a house in Maryland where the authorities found hundreds of thousands of dollars in cocaine and cash.
The U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld the D.C. Circuit decision, eliminating the ability of the U.S. Justice Department to use the GPS information at trial. Earlier this year, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, jurors deadlocked—in a 6 -6 split—at the third trial.
Prosecutors announced after the mistrial that the government would seek a fourth trial. Jones represented himself at the third trial. But he’s indicated he wants to hire an attorney for the upcoming legal fight. (Jones’ stand-by counsel, Jeffrey O’Toole, today filed papers to withdraw from the case.)
Huvelle presided over the first three trials, giving her the chance to see the full scope of the government’s evidence against Jones. “There can be no doubt, despite the jury’s deadlock, that there is more than sufficient evidence to justify a finding of probable cause” in support of the charges, Huvelle wrote today.
The presumption in favor of detention, Huvelle said, is still in place. Jones is due back in court later this month for a status conference. No new trial date is set.