Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Suppression Required for ECPA Violation

US v. Clenney: Clenney pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The firearm was discovered during a search of his home subsequent to his arrest on state extortion charges. The extortion investigation led officers to Clenney's home. Clenney sought to suppress the gun (and his statement admitting it was his), but the district court denied his motion. He preserved the issue for appeal.

On appeal, Clenney offered two arguments as to why the evidence against him should be suppressed, both of which the Fourth Circuit rejected. First, Clenney argued that the evidence should have been suppressed under Franks due to inaccurate information presented in the applications for the warrants as well as information intentionally left out in order to mislead the issuing judge. The court disagreed, noting that the assertions that Clenney claimed were inaccurate were actually accurate and that the information withheld from the magistrate was not material and would not have changed the probable cause determination.

Second, Clenney argued that information obtained from his cell phone during the search was obtained in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and Virginia law. The court held that, although the information retrieved from Clenney's phone was covered by those provisions, he had failed to prove it was obtained without following the procedures set forth for obtaining them. In addition, the court held that suppression was not available as a remedy for such a violation because neither of the statutes provided for suppression.

Finally, the court briefly turned away arguments that Clenney's Miranda waiver was not valid and that he was not promptly presented to a magistrate following his arrest.

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