MADISON, MN – 14 Apr, 2016 – The district court for Lac qui Parle County has dismissed the 13 counts in a controversial hunting case brought against Joshua Liebl of Dawson, Minnesota.

The decision by District Judge Thomas Van Hon ruled that the attachment of a GPS device to the truck of Mr. Liebl and tracking his travel over a two-week period was a search for which the Minnesota DNR needed a search warrant under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which DNR did not have.  The evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search was suppressed.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law and for the privacy of sportsmen of Minnesota,” said defense attorney Bill Peterson.  “It should establish once and for all that DNR enforcement officers are subject to the same constitutional standards as any policemen or other law enforcement officer.” 

The case arose when Conservation Officer Edward Picht thought that Liebl may have been planning to take deer illegally in September 2014.  Picht obtained a Tracking Order from a judge to attach a GPS device to Liebl’s pickup truck. 

On October 8, 2014, at 3 o’clock in the morning, CO Picht had another officer crawl under the truck that was parked in Liebl’s driveway and attach a GPS device.  DNR staff followed the movements of Liebl’s truck on a remote computer for two weeks.  On October 21st, the GPS surveillance showed what CO Picht considered a suspicious visit to a rural meadow.  Based on that, CO Picht went to that location and later that day obtained a search warrant to search Liebl’s home and truck.  Two deer that DNR claimed were illegally taken were seized and Liebl was charged with 13 criminal counts over the two deer.

In the 2012 case of United States versus Jones, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that attachment of a GPS device to a vehicle and tracking its movements was a search under the Constitution.

“We were very gratified that the court agreed with our argument,” said Attorney Peterson.  “We are looking forward to DNR returning Mr. Liebl’s guns, hunting trophies and his pickup truck in the very near future.”

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Company Name: Peterson Law Office
Contact Person: Bill Peterson
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