United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING STETKIW'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
EVIDENCE OBTAINED OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF THE SEARCH WARRANT
[ECF No. 20]
Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendant Bradley Stetkiw's
(“Stetkiw”) Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained
Outside the Scope of the Search Warrant. For the reasons
explained, the Court DENIES the motion.
Security Investigations (“HSI”) initially focused
an investigation on Stetkiw's Bitcoin exchange service.
The Government obtained a search warrant which authorized a
computer search for image and data files. While searching
Stetkiw's computer, HSI Special Agent William Osborn
discovered one image of child pornography. He immediately
stopped the computer search and obtained a search warrant for
child pornography. With that warrant, the Government
discovered additional images of child pornography.
Government charged Stetkiw with violations of: 18 U.S.C.
§ 2252A for receipt and possession of child pornography;
18 U.S.C. §§ 1960 and 2 for operating an unlicensed
Bitcoin exchange service; and 18 U.S.C. §§ 2253 and
982 for criminal forfeiture.
filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained Outside the
Scope of the Search Warrant and requested an evidentiary
TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE AND RESPONSE
seeks to suppress child pornography evidence derived from the
computer search. He argues that Agent Osborn's computer
search for image files was unreasonable and violated the
Fourth Amendment. He says the Leon good-faith
exception is inapplicable because Agent Osborn failed to use
techniques like Optimal Character Recognition
(“OCR”) to narrow the search. OCR scans images
for letters or numbers; if used, Stetkiw argues the examiner
could have narrowed the search to only images with specific
letters or numbers. OCR is not protocol for HSI
Government argues that the search warrant and accompanying
affidavit established probable cause to search image files.
The Government says the plain view doctrine and the
Leon good-faith exception require the Court to deny
THE FOURTH AMENDMENT AND COMPUTER SEARCHES
Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states “. . . no
Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by
Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to
be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
U.S. Const. amend. IV. A search or seizure must satisfy
traditional reasonableness standards by balancing an
individual's privacy interests against legitimate
governmental interests. Wyoming v. Houghton, 526
U.S. 295, 300 (1999).
2014, the Supreme Court required officers to secure search
warrants for cell phones because “they hold for many
Americans ‘the privacy of life.'” Riley
v. California, 573 U.S. 373, 403 (2014) (quoting
Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630 (1886)).
Unlike home searches, searches of electronic devices offer
less predictable, specific, and discrete regions to search.
Orin S. Kerr, Searches and Seizures in a Digital
World, 119 Harv. L. Rev. 531, 538 (2005).
Sixth Circuit held that “a computer search may be as
extensive as reasonably required to locate items described in
the warrant based on probable cause.” United States
v. Richards, 659 F.3d 527, 538 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing
United States v. Burgess, 576 F.3d 1078, 1092 (10th
Cir. 2009)). Indeed, the Court held that if “the
computer search is limited to a search for evidence
explicitly authorized in the warrant, it is reasonable for
the executing officer to open various types of files located
in the computer's hard drive to determine whether they
contain such evidence.” Id. at 540.
search warrant for computers satisfies the Fourth Amendment
particularity requirement if it is limited to a specific
federal crime or specific material. United States v.
Riccardi, 405 F.3d 852, 862 (10th Cir. 2005). See,
e.g., United States v. Ulbricht, 858 F.3d 71,
101 (2d Cir. 2017), cert. denied 138 S.Ct. 2708
(2018); United States v. Wong, 334 F.3d 831, 837-38
(9th Cir. 2003).
THE SEARCH WARRANT WAS PARTICULAR
B to the search warrant authorized agents to seize evidence
related to Stetkiw's alleged violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1960. The search warrant authorized a seizure of
“stored records or information that is otherwise called
for by this warrant” (ECF No. 20-2, PageID.78). The
warrant defines “records” and
“information” as “all forms of creation or
storage, including . . . photographic form” (ECF No.
20-2, PageID.80). During the evidentiary hearing, HSI Special