Warrantless Searches – COVID Contact Tracing

Date Filed

May 10, 2020



United States District Court – Kansas


Case Status

Case closed: May 18, 2020

4th Amendment violation in Kansas

On May 1, 2020, Linn County officials authorized an Order requiring businesses to keep lists of its customers. The lists must be turned over to the County upon demand. Two residents of Linn County contacted Kansas Justice Institute with privacy concerns regarding the Order. This case is about warrantless searches and government overreach.


The Order compels doctors, lawyers, and other businesses to compile information about each of its patrons. The government-compelled list must include the customer’s name, phone number, date of visit, arrival time and departure time. This information must be kept and made available to the Linn County Public Health Department upon request.


The government-compelled listing requirement applies to medical offices, banks, restaurants, and attorneys. Under the terms of the Order, a doctor must reveal their patient, a lawyer must reveal anyone seeking legal advice, and a banker must reveal their client, upon the government’s demand. The Linn County Local Health Officer ordered the sheriffs and other law enforcement officer to execute and enforce the Order and failing to comply results in punishment.

Constitutional rights do not get suspended during a pandemic. There is a clear process by which governments can obtain business and personal records. Unfortunately, Linn County has ignored that process and put the basic rights of its citizens in serious jeopardy. - Sam MacRoberts

Residents of Linn County take action

Jackie Taylor and Linda Jo Hisel of Linn County (Kansas) reached out to Kansas Justice Institute because they felt an Order made on May 1, 2020 by local county officials was government overreach and in direct violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.