E.D.N.C.: SW needed for drone surveillance over a home

A request for a court order for drone surveillance over a home requires a warrant under the Fourth Amendment. A request under the All Writs Act isn’t the way to do it. In re Application of the United States For An Order Authorizing Small Unmanned Aircraft Sys. Surveillance of Private Prop., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203835 (E.D.N.C. Oct. 26, 2022):

The United States seeks permission to conduct remote surveillance of two properties—both of which contain a home—using a small, unmanned aircraft system, a device better known as a drone. Although the application’s supporting affidavit contains enough evidence to establish probable cause, the United States asks this court to authorize the search through an All Writs Act order rather than a warrant.

But the All Writs Act is the wrong tool for the job. The Act enables courts to issue orders to effectuate existing search warrants, but it cannot provide independent authority to search private property—especially when the search seriously implicates Fourth Amendment interests. Thus, the court denies the United States’ application.

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