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Name: United States v. Kelley
Case #: 05-10547
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/01/2007

The totality of circumstances provided probable cause to search a home computer for child pornography. Kelley’s home computer was searched for images of child pornography pursuant to a search warrant which was based on information discovered during unrelated computer searches. (Kelley’s online names were found as the receiver of child pornography on the unrelated computer.) The district court granted Kelley’s motion to suppress the evidence, because something more than proof of receipt or opening an email is required to establish probable cause that the recipient is in actual possession of contraband contained in the email. Further, the court could not conclude from the affidavit that there was a connection between Kelley and the traffickers. The appellate court reversed the granting of the suppression motion. Since the district court’s decision, the appellate court has made clear that probable cause to search a computer for evidence of child pornography turns on the totality of the circumstances, including reasonable inferences. The totality of circumstances described in the affidavit for this search makes it fairly probable that images of child pornography would be found on Kelley’s computer. The affidavit didn’t fall short of probable cause because it didn’t contain evidence that Kelley actually solicited the emails he received. Reasonable inferences can supply the missing links, and here the reasonable inference is that Kelley would not have received so many emails of child pornography from other collectors of child pornography, unless he wanted to receive them.