CA6: Computers, like guns, are usually kept at home, and that’s nexus for search of house for a computer [!?]

A computer, like a gun, is usually kept in the home, and a search warrant for a computer establishes nexus to search defendant’s house[!, really?]. Thus, there was no Fourth Amendment violation and alternatively there was qualified immunity. Peffer v. Stephens, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1049 (6th Cir. Jan 17, 2018) (see Slate Magazine: An Awful Ruling From One of Trump’s Worst Judicial Appointees):

It is clear that the use of a gun in the commission of a crime is sufficient to establish a nexus between the suspected criminal’s gun and his residence. Computers are dissimilar to guns in many ways, including the nature of the crimes in which they are used and the relative ease with which guns can be transported and discarded. Computers are similar to guns, however, in that they are both personal possessions often kept in their owner’s residence and therefore subject to the presumption that a nexus exists between an object used in a crime and the suspect’s current residence. This is borne out by our cases involving the consumption of child pornography via computer.

Although we have never been asked to pass judgment on a magistrate’s finding of a nexus between the computer used to consume child pornography and the alleged consumer’s residence based on nothing more than the use of the computer, we have placed our imprimatur on a number of search warrants issued based on affidavits with scant evidence supporting a nexus beyond the use of a computer. See, e.g., United States v. Elbe, 774 F.3d 885, 890 (6th Cir. 2014) (finding that affidavit established nexus because the suspect’s residence had high-speed internet and the suspect had been observed using a laptop on his front porch); United States v. Lapsins, 570 F.3d 758, 766 (6th Cir. 2009) (finding that affidavit established nexus because the IP address used to distribute prohibited material was accessed by a residential modem located in the general vicinity of suspect’s residence and that suspect had participated in an online chat regarding prohibited material between the hours of 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., when suspect would be at home); United States v. Terry, 522 F.3d 645, 648 (6th Cir. 2008) (finding nexus because affidavit established that the suspect had a computer at his residence and had sent an email containing prohibited material at approximately 2:30 a.m.).

Just as guns, and other possessions, are generally kept in the home, so too are computers, and so we readily find a nexus between computers used in the consumption of child pornography and the suspected consumer’s residence.

As Slate says, this is all Fourth Amendment detritus.

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