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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. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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