Supreme Court rejects stalker’s appeal
April 4, 2014
Convicted stalker Michael Meisler’s appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court over the use of his cell phone’s GPS to locate him was denied Thursday.
Meisler, 62, also appealed his conviction because he wasn’t allowed to withdraw as his own attorney the afternoon before his trial. A three-judge panel of the Nevada Supreme Court also rejected that argument.
Meisler was convicted of aggravated stalking by a Minden jury in January 2013 and sentenced to a dozen years in prison in March.
He was represented by Gardnerville attorney Kris Brown during sentencing and for his appeal.
According to the decision, Meisler argued that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when deputies asked his cell phone provider to use the phone’s GPS to locate him because they didn’t obtain a search warrant first. But Meisler did agree deputies had an arrest warrant.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, “an arrest warrant founded on probable cause implicitly carries with it the limited authority to enter a dwelling in which the suspect lives when there is reason to believe the suspect is within.”
Therefore under federal law, an arrest warrant may permit officers to seize evidence discovered as a result of a lawful arrest.
A recent federal court decision found that searching for someone in their home is far more intrusive than seeking someone’s location from their cell phone.
“If the U.S. Supreme Court has found the more intrusive home search to be reasonable, then a less intrusive cell phone data search is surely reasonable.”
Douglas County Investigator Nadine Chrzanowski testified before the trial that because Meisler had entered the victim’s home, she felt it was important to locate him and take him into custody.
District Judge Michael Gibbons ruled that the Nevada Supreme Court allowed law enforcement to ping a cell phone without obtaining a search warrant. Meisler cited a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that law enforcement needed a warrant to use an electronic tracking device.
In his appeal, Meisler claims the pinging was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.
The Supreme Court panel also upheld Gibbons’ refusal to permit Meisler to revoke his previous decision to represent himself at trial.
“We have held that a district court may deny a request for self-representation if the request was made with the intent to delay proceedings,” according to the panel’s decision. “It follows that a request to withdraw from self-representation may be denied on similar grounds.”
In Meisler’s case, he sought to withdraw as his own counsel at 4:23 p.m. the day before his trial started. The Supreme Court panel found that Gibbons was correct in his ruling.
The panel made up of Justices Michael Cherry, James Hardesty and Ron D. Parraguirre, concluded that because his Fourth Amendment rights weren’t violated, and his other claims lacked merit, his conviction stands.
Meisler is being held at the Lovelock Correctional Center.