9th Circuit Sets Doctrine for Electronic Searches, Finds Steroids Case Search Unlawful

Law.com, August 27, 2009
By Dan Levine

The Justice Department’s aggressive steroids probe has led the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to enunciate a new set of Fourth Amendment protections for the digital age.

In an en banc opinion Wednesday that split conservatives on the court, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said federal agents were wrong to seize swaths of drug test results from labs in Nevada and California.  The computer files taken by the government revealed information about far more people — including professional baseball players and others — than allowed by a search warrant.

The decision reverses an earlier panel upholding the search.  It also represents the second high-profile drubbing that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California has received from the 9th Circuit in as many weeks:  The appeals court just tossed former Brocade CEO Gregory Reyes’ backdating conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct.

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