Mindie Paget
Office of Research

Media advisory: Criminal law professor available to discuss Supreme Court ruling in GPS tracking case

Mon, 01/23/2012

Melanie Wilson

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LAWRENCE – Melanie Wilson, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Kansas School of Law, is available to speak with the media about Fourth Amendment issues in light of today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Jones.

The high court ruled unanimously that police conduct a search when they attach a GPS device to the undercarriage of a car and use the device to obtain information about the driver’s whereabouts. The case has been closely watched as a test of how far police can go in employing technology to investigate and track suspects.

Wilson can address the details of the case, as well as general discussions of the Fourth Amendment, which provides guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures. She can also address issues of prosecutorial ethics.

U.S. v. Jones stems from the conviction of a Washington, D.C., nightclub owner suspected of drug dealing. After the original warrant to install a GPS device on his car expired, police attached the device and used it to monitor his movements. They tracked him to a stash house, where they found drugs, weapons and drug paraphernalia. He was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and sentenced to life in prison.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the conviction, and today’s Supreme Court ruling upholds that decision.

To schedule an interview, contact Mindie Paget, (785) 864-9205 or at

Bio: Melanie Wilson’s scholarship views the world of criminal procedure from the perspective of a former prosecutor and seeks to reconcile the desire of participants in the criminal justice system (particularly prosecutors, judges and police officers) to act ethically and professionally with the sometimes competing imperative that guilty defendants be swiftly and successfully prosecuted, convicted and sentenced proportionally. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, where she served on the Law Review. Before turning to law teaching, Wilson served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Georgia and, prior to that, in the Middle District of Georgia. She also served as law clerk to Richard Freeman, U.S. District Court Judge, Northern District of Georgia. She joined the KU Law faculty in 2007. This fall she sat on an expert panel at William & Mary Law School discussing U.S. v. Jones.

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