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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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