Court denies appeal of cellphone tracking in Douglas County
April 3, 2014
A convicted stalker’s claims that his rights were violated when a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy tracked him down through his cellphone’s Global Positioning System without first obtaining a separate search warrant were rejected Thursday by the Nevada Supreme Court.
A panel of three justices instead affirmed Michael Meisler’s conviction, saying officers had obtained a valid arrest warrant before requesting his phone’s GPS coordinates.
“Because an arrest warrant would have justified an entry into Meisler’s home, an arrest warrant likewise justifies a digital entry into his cellphone to retrieve GPS coordinates for the purpose of locating him,” said the opinion written by Justice Michael Cherry.
Meisler, a disbarred attorney with a previous stalking conviction, was charged with felony aggravating stalking for threatening Janice Tebo after she ended their relationship.
Meisler repeatedly sent Tebo threatening emails, text messages and letters, According to court documents. The communications included references to the 1987 film “Fatal Attraction,” and statements that Tebo had made a “fatal decision.”
Another message referred to the day President John F. Kennedy died and said, “Today is also a day u will also not eva forget …”
The woman filed reports with the sheriff’s office, which obtained a warrant for Meisler’s arrest. A deputy then contacted Meisler’s cellphone provider for his GPS coordinates, and Meisler was arrested in a public parking lot.
A search warrant was signed before the contents of Meisler’s phone were searched and numerous text messages were recovered, some of which were used as evidence in trial.
Meisler was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to four to 12 years in prison.
On appeal, he argued his arrest was illegal and that evidence retrieved from his cellphone should have been excluded as “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
The Supreme Court also rejected Meisler’s arguments that Douglas County District Judge Michael Gibbons should have allowed him to revoke his decision to represent himself at trial. Justices noted Meisler made his request on the eve of trial and agreed with the trial judge that the move was a stall tactic.