North Carolina attorney Mark Hayes, a Durham-based lawyer focusing on appeals, recently represented a client in a successful appeal before the United States Supreme Court. Hayes and co-counsel Luke Everett worked together on the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, after Hayes had represented the client in the N.C. state courts. The case involved the requirement that certain felons must wear a GPS tracking bracelet as part of the state’s monitoring system. The defendant was civilly committed to participate in the monitoring system for the rest of his life. Hayes was excited to be a part of the appeal.
“I really wanted to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court, because the satellite-based monitoring system implicates an individual’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures,” said Hayes. In their argument to the United States Supreme Court, Hayes and Everett persuaded the Court to unanimously rule that such a system does, in fact, fall within the Fourth Amendment’s definition of a search – the Fourth Amendment defines a search to include both searches of an individual’s property and searches of an individual’s person. As a result, the Supreme Court overruled the North Carolina state courts, which had held that the monitoring system did not constitute a search. “We were disappointed with the North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling. But we knew that if we persisted and stuck with our argument, we had a strong case,” said Hayes.
Mark Hayes knows that this was not only a significant victory for his client in the appeal, but also for future criminal defendants. This decision requires courts to first determine that a search is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment before it can subject a convicted offender to the satellite-based monitoring system.