Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ninth Circuit Reconsidering Laptop Border Search Case

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument last week en bancin United States v. Cotterman. A Ninth Circuit panel ruled in favor of the Government in 2011 reported at 637 F.3d 1068 (2011). The facts involved a search of a laptop at a border: the search began at the border and ended two days later at a government forensic laboratory located 170 miles away from the border. The panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the warrantless search as a proper border search. NACDL and the Electronic Frontier Foundation both authored amicus briefs for reconsideration with the full court. The argument (available here) was heard last week and an opinion should be forthcoming. The argument presented en banc entailed that suspicionless, indefinite seizure of an individual’s laptop at the border raises constitutional concerns, and the suspicionless forensic search was outside the scope of a permissible investigatory detention and is abhorrent to the Fourth Amendment.

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