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Laptops at the Border

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From the Ninth Circuit today, a 2-1 decision on the border search doctrine:

Today we examine a question of first impression in the Ninth Circuit: whether the search of a laptop computer that begins at the border and ends two days later in a Government forensic computer laboratory almost 170 miles away can still fall within the border search doctrine. The district court considered the issue to be a simple matter of time and space. It concluded that the search of property seized at an international border and moved 170 miles from that border for further search cannot be justified by the border search doctrine. We disagree.
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Because we agree with the district court's conclusion that the federal agents acted reasonably, and find that neither the scope of the intrusion nor the duration of the deprivation was egregious, we reverse the district court's order suppressing hundreds of images and videos of child pornography found on Howard Cotterman's computer and remand the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with our decision.

Opinion by Judge Tallman, joined by Judge Rawlinson.  Judge B. Fletcher dissents.

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