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COA cites 'good faith' exception for child pornography search warrant

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress evidence, holding that even though a search warrant was invalid, the evidence it produced is admissible due to a “good faith” exception to the exclusionary rule.

On May 1, 2009, Bryan Johnson took his computer to Computer Bay, a repair shop in Schererville. An employee there found a folder on Johnson’s computer titled: “Had sex with a 12 year old_file.” Based on his co-workers’ recommendations, the employee reported Johnson to the Schererville Police Department.

A police officer visited the store and checked some of the folders on the computer. He found no images of child pornography, but was instructed to bring the hard drive to the police station to be held as evidence. Subsequently, another officer – Detective Patrick Rosado – took over the investigation.

Rosado filled out search warrant and search warrant affidavit forms and submitted them to the Schererville Town Court on May 19, 2009, to be signed by Judge Kenneth Anderson. After Rosado received the search warrant and affidavit back from Judge Anderson, he picked up the computer tower, which was still at Computer Bay. Detective Alva Whited, a forensic examiner with the Indiana State Police, searched the computer and found images of child pornography within the folder that initially caused the Computer Bay employee to call police. Whited found 173 folders, each containing approximately 1,000 photos. Many of the photos were animated or digital, but Whited found at least two live photos involving young children and adults engaging in sexual acts.

In the case of Bryan Johnson v. State of Indiana, No. 45A05-1012-CR-816, Johnson argued that the images found on his computer should have been suppressed because of an improperly filed search warrant. When Rosado submitted his affidavit and search warrant to the Schererville Town Court, he did not see Judge Anderson. Instead, he submitted the forms to one of Judge Anderson’s office employees and received them back shortly thereafter. The appeals court stated that Rosado was not familiar with the policies of the Schererville Town Court and assumed that the court employee had taken care of everything necessary to properly file a search warrant. However, when he received the forms back, neither form had a file mark, and the Schererville Court later could not find either form in its record, which indicates the search warrant was never filed.

The appeals court referred to the Indiana Supreme Court decision in Callender v. State, 193 Ind. 91, 138 N.E. 817, 818 (1923), which states that if property is secured by a search and seizure under the pretext of a search warrant, and the warrant is held invalid for any reason, then the property seized may not be used as evidence against a defendant. Generally, the exclusionary rule requires that a search conducted pursuant to an invalid search warrant results in the suppression of any items seized. Hoop v. State, 909 N.E.2d 463, 470 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), trans. denied.

However, in Johnson, the state argued that the images on Johnson’s computer were admissible under the “good faith exception” to the exclusionary rule – Indiana Code 35-37-4-5 – which allows evidence to be admitted if an officer sought the warrant under probable cause and believed the search warrant to be valid. The appeals court agreed, affirming the trial court’s denial of Johnson’s motion to suppress.
 

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  1. The is an unsigned editorial masquerading as a news story. Almost everyone quoted was biased in favor of letting all illegal immigrants remain in the U.S. (Ignoring that Obama deported 3.5 million in 8 years). For some reason Obama enforcing part of the immigration laws was O.K. but Trump enforcing additional parts is terrible. I have listed to press conferences and explanations of the Homeland Security memos and I gather from them that less than 1 million will be targeted for deportation, the "dreamers" will be left alone and illegals arriving in the last two years -- especially those arriving very recently -- will be subject to deportation but after the criminals. This will not substantially affect the GDP negatively, especially as it will take place over a number of years. I personally think this is a rational approach to the illegal immigration problem. It may cause Congress to finally pass new immigration laws rationalizing the whole immigration situation.

  2. Mr. Straw, I hope you prevail in the fight. Please show us fellow American's that there is a way to fight the corrupted justice system and make them an example that you and others will not be treated unfairly. I hope you the best and good luck....

  3. @ President Snow - Nah, why try to fix something that ain't broken??? You do make an excellent point. I am sure some Mickey or Minnie Mouse will take Ruckers seat, I wonder how his retirement planning is coming along???

  4. Can someone please explain why Judge Barnes, Judge Mathias and Chief Judge Vaidik thought it was OK to re weigh the evidence blatantly knowing that by doing so was against the rules and went ahead and voted in favor of the father? I would love to ask them WHY??? I would also like to ask the three Supreme Justices why they thought it was OK too.

  5. How nice, on the day of my car accident on the way to work at the Indiana Supreme Court. Unlike the others, I did not steal any money or do ANYTHING unethical whatsoever. I am suing the Indiana Supreme Court and appealed the failure of the district court in SDIN to protect me. I am suing the federal judge because she failed to protect me and her abandonment of jurisdiction leaves her open to lawsuits because she stripped herself of immunity. I am a candidate for Indiana Supreme Court justice, and they imposed just enough sanction so that I am made ineligible. I am asking the 7th Circuit to remove all of them and appoint me as the new Chief Justice of Indiana. That's what they get for dishonoring my sacrifice and and violating the ADA in about 50 different ways.

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