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Media Alerts - United States v. Goodale - 8th Circuit
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January 17, 2014
  United States v. Goodale - 8th Circuit
Headline Eighth Circuit panel affirms denial of defense motion to suppress evidence obtained from warrantless search

Area of Law Fourth Amendment

Issue(s) Presented Whether the district court properly concluded that the private search exception to the Fourth Amendment allowed a police officer to briefly examine Defendant's laptop computer without a warrant

Brief Summary A jury convicted the Defendant of aggravated sexual abuse, interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and accessing child pornography with intent to view in violation of various U.S. statutes. Before Defendant's arrest, his alleged victim (M.R.) and M.R.'s mother took Defendant's laptop to a police station. At the station, M.R. opened the laptop and demonstrated auto access to pornographic material. A police officer "moved the laptop and touched the keypad for about 17 seconds during this process." The police then in due course questioned the defendant and seized his laptop pending issuance of a search warrant.

The Defendant moved to suppress the contents of the laptop on the ground that M.R. had no permission to show the laptop to the police, and that the police look at the laptop prior to a search warrant violated Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. A panel of the Eighth Circuit affirmed the District Court's denial of the defense motion. The Court concluded that the initial search "was neither instigated by nor performed on behalf of the police. . . During M.R.'s demonstration, an officer moved and touched the laptop for about 17 seconds. No evidence suggests that the officer's viewing went further than M.R.'s search. . . .The private search exception applies 'to a search or seizure, even an unreasonable one, effected by a private individual not acting as an agent of the Government or with the participation or knowledge of any government official.'" (Emphasis in the original)

The full text of the opinion may be found at

Panel Circuit Judges Bye, Smith, and Benton

Date of Issued Opinion December 30, 2013

Decided Affirmed

Docket Number 12-3972

Counsel Mark Tremmel for the United States and Mark C. Meyer for Defendant

Author Circuit Judge Benton

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor Bradley G. Clary, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School

    Posted By: Bradley Clary @ 01/17/2014 10:44 AM     8th Circuit  

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