United States v. Seerden (P)

In federal criminal proceedings against a member of the U.S Navy, the Fourth Amendment governs whether evidence is admissible, not the Military Rules of Evidence.

Based on a military search warrant arising from sexual assault allegations, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service found child pornography on the servicemember’s cell phone. Investigators then obtained a federal warrant to search the phone a second time and again found child pornography. The servicemember contends that the first search violated the Military Rules of Evidence, but those rules can’t usurp the Fourth Amendment.

Even if the initial warrant had violated the Fourth Amendment, the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule precludes suppression of evidence obtained from the first search. The affidavit supporting the military warrant detailed sexual assault allegations and noted admissions the servicemember made during a controlled text conversation orchestrated by NCIS agents. Presented with such information, it would not be entirely unreasonable for an officer to believe that the military warrant was supported by probable cause.

Affirmed.

United States v. Seerden (P), No. 18-4124, Feb. 20, 2019. 4th Cir. (Thacker) from EDVA at Norfolk (Jackson).



Categories: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Opinions, Published

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