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State v. Ritchie

349 Or. 572, 248 P.3d 405 (2011)

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State v. Ritchie

Oregon Supreme Court

349 Or. 572, 248 P.3d 405 (2011)

Facts

Gregg Ritchie (defendant), an elementary school music teacher, consented to a search of his desktop and laptop computers. A police computer specialist, White, conducted a forensic examination of Ritchie’s computers and found approximately 1,100 images of child pornography. All images were found in the unallocated space on the computers’ hard drives. Images end up in unallocated space after being deleted and remain there until overwritten by the computer in the course of saving new files. Using forensic investigation tools, White determined that some of the images had been accessed and viewed through chatroom messages and others had originally been created as temporary internet files. Temporary internet files are cached copies of the content on websites visited by the computer’s user and are automatically downloaded by the computer. Any file on a computer ends up in unallocated space after deletion. The State of Oregon (plaintiff) charged and convicted Ritchie for encouraging child sexual abuse by possessing and controlling child pornography. Ritchie appealed, and the appellate court affirmed the conviction, holding that viewing child pornography online constituted both actual possession of the displayed images and constructive possession of the images because of the user’s ability to view, download, or forward the viewed images. Ritchie appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gillette, J.)

Dissent (Kistler, J.)

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