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Name: U.S. v. Cotterman
Case #: 09-10139
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/30/2011
Subsequent History: rehg. en banc granted (2012) 673 F.3d 1206

Seizure of a laptop at the border entry, retention for two days and transportation to a forensic laboratory in Tucson to open password-protected files was within the government’s border search authority and was not unreasonable. A passport check at the Lukeville, Arizona port of entry resulted in an alert from the Treasury Enforcement Communication System to be on the lookout for child pornography in the possession of this sex offender. A search of the computer at a secondary inspection area was limited because files were password-protected. The computer was taken to a forensic lab where data was analyzed over the weekend. The time was necessary to bypass the laptop’s security and open files. The border search doctrine is flexible to meet the evolving demands inherent in securing the borders.