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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. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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