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Tim Bilecki

Scope of Warrant

In United States v. Mann, 592 F.3d 779 (7th Cir. 2010) Mann who was a lifeguard instructor for the Red Cross being investigated for voyeurism. A search warrant for his home covered “videotapes, CD’s or other digital media, computers, and the contents of said computers, tapes, or other electronic media, to search for images of women in locker rooms or other private areas.” (780-81).

Police seized a Dell desktop, a Dell laptop, and a WD external hard drive. Two months after the seizure, investigators searched the laptop and desktop. They used FTK, a forensic tool that collects all images on a computer in an easy to use format for investigators, and Known File Filter (KFF) Alert, which finds known child pornography images on a device.

The investigator found images related to the suspected voyeurism, a story about a swim coach masturbating while watching young girls swim, evidence of visits to a website called “Perverts Are Us,” and child pornography unrelated to the suspected voyeurism. Two months later the investigator searched the WD external drive and found videos of the suspected voyeurism, child pornography identified by KFF, and many other images of suspected child pornography. The district court denied Mann’s motion to suppress because “the search warrant authorized him to examine any digital file located on the computer hard drives or storage devices and . . . he never abandoned his search for evidence of voyeurism and began looking for child pornography.” (p. 781-82). The district court also felt any portions of the search outside the scope of the warrant found items in plain view.

The court ruled that the discovery of child pornography on Mann’s computer was not outside the scope of the warrant, except for the use of KFF, but even with those four images removed, the conviction and sentence were affirmed.

The Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari in this case on June 28, 2010.

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