Thursday, March 10, 2011

The case for changing your email password

United States v. Blauvelt: Blauvelt appealed from his convictions for possession and production of child porn, as well as possession of cocaine and two counts of distributing controlled substances to minors. Blauvelt received a 293-month sentence. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, with the Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor sitting by designation as an Associate Justice.

Factually, Blauvelt's former girlfriends, Anne Bridges and Erin Ruley, had a phone conversation, in which Bridges revealed that she had received an email from Blauvelt that contained explicit images of Ruley's 14-year-old sister, B.R. Bridges reportedly deleted the email, but she recalled Blauvelt's email account password and used it to open Blauvelt's email account, accessed the images, and showed them to Ruley. Ruley recognized both her younger sister and the interior of Blauvelt's home depicted in the photos. Bridges supplied Ruley with the email password, and Ruley went to her mother's home, printed out the photos and a screen shot of Blauvelt's email inbox, which demonstrated that the explicit photos were taken with Blauvelt's cell phone and were forwarded to his email account.

Ruley's mother called police, who then interviewed her, Ruley, and B.R., who confirmed that she was the girl in the photos. T.J., a minor male who also appears in the photos, arrived and gave statements to the police, incriminating Blauvelt. The police went to Blauvelt's home, and secured the residence while waiting for a search warrant to be signed. When the rest of the investigative team arrived with the warrant, Blauvelt was given his Miranda warnings, and he waived these rights. Blauvelt then gave statements to police; infamously, he said "oops." Officers seized his cell phone, a desktop computer, a media storage card, a digital camera, a mirror and a straw.

On appeal, Blauvelt made numerous challenges, starting with the denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to the search warrant (for lack of probable cause), to the denial of his request for a hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, to the legality of his detention for three hours prior to the issuance of the search warrant, to the improper admission of some bad acts evidence under Rule 404(b), the imposition of a two-level obstruction of justice enhancement, and jury tampering. The Fourth Circuit showed little trouble rejecting each of these arguments and affirming the convictions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm looking at this from the wrong perspective but wouldn't this be more of a case for not molesting your son's 13 year old aunt and then accidentally sending the pictures to your ex girlfriend?