Defendant’s computer was seized in a child pornography investigation, and the search warrant had an expiration date for searching the hard drive of 90 days. Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(e)(2)(B). It was searched a year later. There is no per se rule of exclusion for violating this provision, and trial judge was within her discretion to determine that the search was unreasonable for waiting a year. United States v. Cote, 72 M.J. 41 (C.A. A.F. 2013):
Prior to 2009, Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(e)(2)(A) (Searches and Seizures) required that a warrant to search or seize property be executed within ten days. In 2009, however, the rule was amended, adding section 41(e)(2)(B) which provided, in part, as follows:
(B) Warrant Seeking Electronically Stored Information. A warrant under Rule 41(e)(2)(A) may authorize the seizure of electronic storage media or the seizure or copying of electronically stored information. Unless otherwise specified, the warrant authorizes a later review of the media or information consistent with the warrant. The time for executing the warrant in Rule 41(e)(2)(A) and (f)(1)(A) refers to the seizure or on-site copying of the media or information, and not to any later off-site copying or review.
This rule reflects a principle also recognized by the judiciary -- that courts "[cannot] expect the government to make onsite determinations of whether a file or document contained on a hard drive or in an email account falls within the scope of the warrant." United States v. Metter, 860 F. Supp. 2d 205, 214 (E.D.N.Y. 2012). For this reason courts have considered seizure of electronic materials and later off-site analysis and review of them to be a constitutionally reasonable "necessity of the digital era." Id. (citing United States v. Burns, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35312, 2008 WL 4542990 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 29, 2008)).
While many circuits have recognized that "[t]he Fourth Amendment does not specify that search warrants [must] contain expiration dates ... [or] requirements about when the search or seizure is to occur or the duration," United States v. Gerber, 994 F.2d 1556, 1559 (11th Cir. 1993), in this case we are dealing with a search warrant in which the judge established just such a requirement.
. . .
While we do not believe that a violation of the ninety-day period mandates per se exclusion of the evidence, we do believe that the violation imposes an additional burden on the Government to show that the violation was either de minimis or otherwise reasonable under the circumstances. ...
At trial, the Government did not show any fact which would support the argument that its violation of the warrant's terms was reasonable under the circumstances. Further, performing a search over a year after the expiration of the search period, without following already established procedures for requesting a new warrant or an extension of the existing warrant, is not a de minimis violation. As a result, we cannot conclude that the Government has met its burden at trial to show that the search comported with constitutional requirements. The military judge did not abuse her discretion in suppressing the evidence found on the WD external drive.
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"If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn't, and they don't."
"Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government."
—Shemaya, in the Thalmud
"A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays
down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its
application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect
results, especially if one's attention is confined to the particular case at
bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping
government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having
and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that
the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and
safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced."
—Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev'd Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).
"The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing
can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws,
or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence."
—Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.
—Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).
"There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that
bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the
police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater
than it is today."
— Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).
"The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their
—Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)
"It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have
frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And
so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his
case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth
—United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)
"The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated
here, has not–to put it mildly–run smooth."
—Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).
"A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the
bottom of a turntable."
—Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)
"For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly
exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth
Amendment protection. ... But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in
an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected."
—Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)
“Experience should teach us to be most on guard to
protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born
to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded
rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men
of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
—United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)
“Liberty—the freedom from unwarranted
intrusion by government—is as easily lost through insistent nibbles by
government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose
it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark.”
—United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)
"You can't always get what you want /
But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need."
—Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
"In Germany, they first came for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for
the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came
for me–and by that time there was nobody left to speak up."
—Martin Niemöller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]
“You know, most men would get discouraged by
now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men!”
—Pepé Le Pew
"There is never enough time, unless you are serving it."
"The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime."
—Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 13-14 (1948)