The Champion

August 2010 , Page 18 

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The Plain View Doctrine and Computer Searches: Balancing Law Enforcement’s Investigatory Needs With Privacy Rights in the Digital Age

By David H. Angeli, Christina Schuck

The police suspected Montgomery Gray of hacking into the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) computer system at the National Institute of Health. They obtained a warrant to search his computer for NLM documents and “hacker” materials, including certain computer source code. Following departmental computer search protocol, the searching agent methodically opened each and every file on Gray’s computer, including image files in a directory titled “Teen.” Within this folder, the agent found numerous images of child pornography, leading him to secure a second warrant authorizing a search for child pornography. In Gray’s subsequent prosecution for possession of child pornography, the court denied Gray’s motion to suppress the images, holding that (1) pursuant to the original warrant, the agent was entitled to examine all the files in the computer to determine whether they contained items falling within the scope of that warrant, and (2) based upon this broad au

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