Court Denies Criminal Defendant’s Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained via Warrantless Search: eDiscovery Case Law
In United States v. Caputo, No. 3:18-cr-00428-IM (D. Or Nov. 6, 2019), Oregon District Judge Karin J. Immergut denied the defendant’s motion to suppress emails and evidence derived from a warrantless search of Defendant’s workplace email account, finding “any expectation of privacy in Defendant’s work email was objectively unreasonable under the military’s computer-use policies in effect at his workplace.”
In this case where the defendant was indicted on four counts of wire fraud, the defendant filed a motion to suppress emails and evidence derived from a warrantless search of the defendant’s workplace email account. The Government’s response to the motion provided additional facts about the email account and the context in which it received copies of the defendant’s emails, including an image of the banner message displayed when the defendant logged on to his work computer system and two policies which governed the defendant’s computer use at work.
During the period at issue in this case, the warning banner advised (among other things) that at any time, the US Government may inspect and seize data stored on the information system. The defendant was also subject to the Oregon National Guard’s acceptable use policy and Employees of the Oregon National Guard, including the defendant, were required to sign the policy before they received computer access. They also had to acknowledge and recertify their understanding of the policy annually.
Judge Immergut noted that “Defendant has not offered any evidence that he had a subjective expectation of privacy in his work email” and stated that “any expectation of privacy in Defendant’s work email was objectively unreasonable under the military’s computer-use policies in effect at his workplace.”
Judge immergut also rejected two cases that the defendant cited to support his claim of a reasonable expectation of privacy, stating that “neither case requires suppression here” and that “[u]nder these circumstances, it was objectively unreasonable for Defendant to expect privacy in his work email.” As a result, Judge Immergut denied the defendant’s motion to suppress.
So, what do you think? Should employees expect privacy within their work email accounts? Please let us know if any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
Case opinion link courtesy of eDiscovery Assistant.
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