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Name: United States v. Gourde
Case #: 03-30262
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/09/2006

The judge who issued a search warrant made a common sense decision under the totality of the circumstances that there was a fair probability that child pornography would be found on the defendant’s computer, and thus a search undertaken pursuant to that warrant was not unreasonable. Federal officers obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home and computers after finding his name on the customer list of a child pornography website. The information in the warrant affidavit included background information regarding the website and what material was available on the site, as well as the affirmative steps taken by the defendant to join the website (i.e., becoming a subscriber, providing credit card information, and remaining a member of the website for over two months until it was shut down by the FBI). The Ninth Circuit upheld the search as reasonable, but two judges dissented, noting that at the time the warrant was sought, the FBI had direct evidence that would have shown whether or not the defendant had actually downloaded illegal images, but that information was not included in the warrant affidavit.