OH5: SW for drug transaction evidence on computer reasonably led to finding CP

The computer search warrant in this case was for evidence of drug activity (as in pictures and Excel spreadsheets or other ledger information), and the officer stumbled upon child pornography. The fact files can be hidden or deliberately mislabeled necessarily allows a broader computer search, and this was justified by inevitable discovery [note plain view not mentioned]. State v. Gornall, 2016-Ohio-7599, 2016 Ohio App. LEXIS 4466 (5th Dist. Nov. 2, 2016):

[*P28] Appellant argues that the warrant in the instant case allowed the same sweeping comprehensive search of the hard drive as the warrant in Castagnola. We disagree. Appellant argues the warrant and affidavit should have narrowed the search to files where evidence of his drug trafficking activity could be found, such as internet search history and bookmarks, and payment programs such as Quicken and Excel. However, Castagnola specifically states that the Fourth Amendment does not require a search warrant to specify restrictive search protocols. Further, unlike the detective in Castagnola who testified specifically as to where he expected evidence of the search for the address to be, the record in the instant case does not support a conclusion that the officers possessed any more specificity as to the location of computer files concerning appellant’s drug activity than set forth in the affidavit. The warrant provided sufficient guidance to the analyst to search for only the items to be seized: evidence of possession of drugs and trafficking in drugs, and/or pandering obscenity involving a minor.

[*P29] Jenkins testified that because of the way computer systems work, you can put things anywhere, “safe” files anywhere. Supp. Tr. 35-36. He testified that he does not search all the files on the computer, and tries to limit the search to what is pertinent in the case. Supp. Tr. 41. For example, they do not look at the pre-installed Windows files that come with the operating system. Supp. Tr. 41. He further testified that it is necessary to look at the content of the files because file names don’t necessarily represent what the files are. Supp. Tr. 44. In the instant case, evidence of drug possession or trafficking activity concerning appellant’s admitted online purchases of narcotics could have been “hidden” almost anywhere on the computer. The instant case is distinguishable from Castagnola, where the only evidence regarding the use of the defendant’s computer in furtherance of the crime was an inference drawn by the police officer that he might have found the victim’s address through an online search. Under the circumstances of the instant case, the warrant set forth what the officers believed would be found on the computer with as much specificity as possible.

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