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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. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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