CA11: 33 day delay in getting SW for computer seized in CP investigation not 4A unreasonable

The government’s 33 day delay in getting a search warrant for defendant’s seized computer in a child porn case was found, although not ideal, not unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Thomas v. United States, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 14645 (11th Cir. May 17, 2019):

Ultimately, our task here is to determine, considering all the circumstances and balancing Thomas’s possessory interest in the HP desktop against the government’s interest in maintaining custody of it as evidence of a crime, whether Agent Monaghan’s efforts in this case were sufficiently diligent and, therefore, reasonable. See Laist, 702 F.3d at 613, 616; Mitchell, 565 F.3d at 1350-51. Under the totality of the circumstances here, we conclude that they were. As we explained above, Thomas’s possessory interest in the HP desktop was diminished by his failure to request access to or the return of the computer after it was seized and the government’s several strong reasons to believe that child pornography would be found on the computer. Meanwhile, the government had a compelling interest in retaining the laptop as evidence of a serious federal crime in this case—the agents may not have seen child pornography on the computer themselves, but the child erotica images, links to other websites indicative of child pornography, and Olausen’s descriptions of the images she saw gave every indication that a search of the computer would reveal child pornography. Importantly, Agent Monaghan acted diligently in pursuing a search warrant. Agent Monaghan began the process just two days after seizing the HP desktop, submitted a warrant application to the state attorney less than a week after the initial seizure, remained in contact with the state attorney while she was reviewing the warrant application, and promptly pursued a federal search warrant when the state declined to pursue the case. In light of all of these facts and circumstances, the 33-day delay in obtaining a warrant in this case, though by no means ideal, was not unreasonable. See Laist, 702 F.3d at 617.

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