CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Miller on Searches of Seized and Imaged Electronic Evidence

Miller_colinColin Miller (University of South Carolina School of Law) has posted OK Computer: The Fourth Amendment and Searches of Seized and Imaged Electronic Evidence on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In 1916, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts addressed a novel question in Massie v. Barker: How does the standard for negligence previously applied to walkers apply to drivers? For the court, the answer was clear: “The law as to drivers of motor vehicles is not different from that which governs other persons. The standard required is that of the reasonably prudent person under all the circumstances.” 

In its 2012 opinion in United States v. Metter, the Eastern District of New York also addressed a question of first impression: How long may the government retain seized and imaged electronic evidence before conducting a review of that evidence to determine whether any of it falls outside the scope of a search warrant?

Many advances in technology have forced courts to reconsider existing constitutional tests and standards given the brave new digital world in which we live. Other technological advances have not caused such legal retrofitting as courts have found that existing tests and standards can adequately accommodate some new innovations. This article argues that the problem confronted by the Metter court falls into this second category.

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