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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. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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