CA4: After seizure of cell phone, actual search under SW doesn’t have to happen by the date on the SW to be reasonable

The seizure then search of defendant’s cell phone under a search warrant was reasonable because the search followed the terms of the warrant. Actually analysis of the data doesn’t have to happen within the time on the face of the warrant. United States v. Carrington, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13407 (4th Cir. July 25, 2017):

The problem with Paylor’s argument, however, is its premise: that his phone was not “searched” for Fourth Amendment purposes until the FBI completed its forensic analysis of the phone in October of 2014. Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, governing search and seizure, includes a specific provision for warrants seeking electronically stored information, like the search warrant in this case. Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(e)(2)(B). Such warrants, Rule 41(e)(2)(B) makes clear, are deemed executed when the electronically stored information is seized and brought within the government’s control, rather than when the information is analyzed by the government. Id. (“The time for executing the warrant … refers to the seizure or on-site copying of the media or information, and not to any later off-site copying or review.”). In other words, an initial seizure of Paylor’s phone after the 14-day expiration period would have contravened the terms of the warrant — but that is not what happened here, where the phone already was in government custody pursuant to a lawful seizure. And the fact that the government did not “review” the texts on the phone until after the warrant’s expiration date is consistent with the warrant itself. See id. (“Unless otherwise specified, the warrant authorizes a later review of the media or information consistent with the warrant.”); United States v. Huart, 735 F.3d 972, 974 n.2 (7th Cir. 2013) (“[U]nder [Rule] 41(e)(2)(B), a warrant for electronically stored information is executed when the information is seized or copied — here, when the [government] seized the phone. Law enforcement is permitted to decode or otherwise analyze data on a seized device at a later time.”).

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