7th Circuit finds 5-year-old information not ‘stale’

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declined a defendant’s request to find the information used to execute a search warrant of his computer for child pornography stale because more time had passed in his case as compared to previous cases ruled on by the Circuit Court.

James Carroll argued the District Court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the information provided in the affidavit was stale and did not establish probable cause to search his home. He also claimed the court erred in concluding that even if the search was not supported by probable cause, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies.

A 13-year-old girl reported to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Detective Kurt Spivey that Carroll, who was a professional photographer, had molested her when she was 8 years old. Based on her testimony, and Spivey’s experience conducting child pornography and exploitation investigations, the Marion Superior Court granted a search warrant of Carroll’s residence. Spivey had explained that those who have child pornography often keep the images for years and they can be recovered even if the person believes the information has been deleted.

District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson denied Carroll’s motion to suppress the evidence found after a search of his home. He pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and six counts of child exploitation, but reserved the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress.

The federal appeals court in United States of America v. James V. Carroll, 13-2600, had to decide whether the victim’s information about what happened five years earlier was too stale to create a fair probability that evidence of child pornography or sexual exploitation of a child would be found on a computer or other storage devices within Carroll’s residence at the time the search warrant was issued.

“In recognition of the well-established hoarding habits of collectors of child pornography, this Court’s holding in Prideaux-Wentz (543 F.3d 954, 958 (7th Cir. 2008)) and cases from other circuits make clear that under certain circumstances years can pass between information about child pornography offenses and applications for search warrants without rendering the information stale,” wrote Judge Frederick J. Kapla of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, who was sitting by designation.

There isn’t a bright-line time limit, and the 7th Circuit held it’s not obligated to deem the information at issue in this case stale just because it is older than the information at issue in any previous case; each case is unique, Kapla wrote. The information in Prideaux-Wentz was at least four years old.

The judges concluded that the information in Spivey’s affidavit was sufficient to establish a fair probability that the computer or other digital storage devices within Carroll’s residence would contain evidence of child pornography or sexual exploitation of a child, despite that the photographs were taken approximately five years earlier.

“Therefore, we hold that there is a substantial basis in the record to support the decision to issue the search warrant for Carroll’s residence. As a result, we need not reach the issue of good-faith reliance on the search warrant,” Kapla wrote.  


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.