Opinion, please: An invasion of privacy?

A front page story in Sunday’s Virginian Pilot raised an interesting question.

Game wardens had put a hidden camera in a tree, pointed at VanKesteren’s soybean fields, after receiving a complaint about protected birds getting caught in predator traps.

The camera wasn’t just placed in any tree: it was placed in a tree on Steve VanHersteren’s property, without his knowledge or consent. The video was used to convict the Eastern Shore man for a violation of  the federal Migratory Bird Act. His only alternative is an appeal to the US Supreme Court, an expensive proposition.

So, do you agree with the magistrate and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that, while troubling, such surveillance can done without a warrant?

Or is this an invasion of privacy and, as such, the conviction should be overturned?

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26 thoughts on “Opinion, please: An invasion of privacy?

  1. Maybe because there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy for a field that is over a mile away from a home and accessible and viewable from a public road?

    And if you people would bother to read the bloody court opinion, you would see that the defendant freely stated that he had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

  2. Timothy,

    Like I asked before, What constitutes an open field? Does the expectation of privacy come into defining that doctrine at all? I’m asking because I am unfamiliar with this doctrine.

    If this same field had been a mile from the road (or behind a tree line or a hill or something), would it be legally different? Would a warrant then be expected/required?

      1. W/o going into the criminal procedure bits, in the facts of the footnote 2 case, the FBI used thermal imaging devices to discover the presence of pot in a house.

  3. No, the FBI used thermal imaging to discover the presence of grow-lights in the house. Are they going to come break down my door and kill my dog to discover my son’s science project — which involves growing a bunch of radishes under grow-lights?

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