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United States v. Cotterman

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
709 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 2013) (en banc)


Howard Cotterman (defendant) was crossing into the U.S. from Mexico when the Treasury Enforcement Communication System (TECS) returned a hit for Cotterman, indicating that he was a sex offender and was potential involved in sex tourism and/or some type of child pornography. This resulted in a secondary search of Cotterman’s belongings. During this secondary search, federal agents seized two laptops and three digital cameras. The agents found nothing incriminating, but did encounter several password-protected files. The agents sent the computers to a federal lab where the government conducted a forensic search of the computers over the course of a few days and discovered hundreds of child pornography pictures. A grand jury indicted Cotterman and he filed a motion to suppress the evidence based on the Fourth Amendment. The district court granted the motion. A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Court of Appeals) reversed. Cotterman appealed to the Court of Appeals en banc.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McKeown, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Callahan, J.)

Dissent (Smith, J.)

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