E.D.Pa.: Particularity requirement has to be more flexible in complex cases

In complex cases, the particularly requirement has to be flexible enough to accommodate the substantial amount of information that will be sought and obtained. These two warrants, from 2011 and 2014, were constitutionally particular. United States v. Devos Ltd., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3744 (E.D.Pa. Jan. 10, 2017):

While the Fourth Amendment requires that warrants be particular, courts have recognized that “the Fourth Amendment’s commands … are practical and not abstract.” United States v. Christine, 687 F.2d 749, 760 (3d Cir. 1982) (quoting United States v. Ventresca, 380 U.S. 102, 108, 85 S. Ct. 741, 13 L. Ed. 2d 684 (1965)). The recognition of the practical and pragmatic way in which the Fourth Amendment applies in reality informs the way in which courts evaluate the sufficiency of warrants. Accordingly, when reviewing warrants for sufficient particularity, the courts must test the warrants “in a commonsense and realistic fashion.” Id.

The Third Circuit has consistently emphasized the need for such pragmatism and flexibility when evaluating warrants for particularity especially in the context of complex cases and corporate financial crimes. See Yusuf, 461 F.3d at 395 [United States v. Yusuf, 461 F.3d 374, 48 V.I. 980 (3d Cir. 2006)] (providing that “[w]e have repeatedly stated that the government is to be given more flexibility regarding the items to be searched when the criminal activity deals with complex financial transactions.”). Such flexibility is also important when reviewing warrants involving alleged financial crimes that have unfolded over a long period of time. See Christine, 687 F.2d at 760 (providing that flexibility is especially appropriate in cases involving complex schemes spanning many years that can be uncovered only by “exacting scrutiny of intricate financial records”).

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