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United States v. Koutsos

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

March 27, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
NIKOLAOS T. KOUTSOS, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Lai Saechao's Second Motion to Suppress. After considering the briefs, applicable law, and arguments presented at a hearing held this day, the Motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         Nikolaos Koutsos, James Horrisberger, and Lai Saechao were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute, and interstate transportation in aid of racketeering. Horrisberger and Saechao first moved to suppress the marijuana seized in connection to their detention and arrest. That motion was denied, see United States v. Koutsos, 3:17-CR-77-CWR-LRA, 2017 WL 5615893, at *7 (S.D.Miss. Nov. 21, 2017), as was their motion for reconsideration, see United States v. Koutsos, 3:17-CR-77-CWR-LRA, 2018 WL 523944, at *5 (S.D.Miss. Jan. 23, 2018).

         Saechao now moves to suppress the material the government found on his electronic devices, particularly his Samsung Galaxy Note. These devices (and others) were seized upon Defendants' arrest on June 6, 2017.[1] On June 30, 2017, the government applied for and obtained search warrants to download and analyze material from the devices. The warrants expired on July 12, 2017. Two days later, however, the government extracted data from Saechao's Samsung Galaxy Note.

         II. Legal Standard

         The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, but “says nothing about suppressing evidence obtained in violation of this command.” Davis v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2419, 2426 (2011). Rather, the exclusionary rule is a prudential doctrine created by the Supreme Court to “compel respect for [the] constitutional guaranty.” Id. “The rule's sole purpose . . . is to deter future Fourth Amendment violations.” Id. (citations omitted).

         III. Discussion

         Saechao challenges the search warrants on three grounds. Each will be discussed in turn.

         A. Expired Search Warrants

         Saechao first contends that evidence from his devices should be suppressed because it was obtained two days after the government's warrants expired.

         When a warrant authorizes a search for electronically stored information, “officers may (1) seize or copy the entire storage medium and (2) review it later to determine what electronically stored information falls within the scope of the warrant.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 41 advisory committee's note to 2009 amendment. The first step, the execution period, is limited to a “specified time no longer than 14 days.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(e)(2)(A). The second step, the review period, is unlimited unless otherwise specified by the magistrate. “A substantial amount of time can be involved in the forensic imaging and review of information.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 41 advisory committee notes to 2009 amendment.

         In this case, each warrant commanded officers “to execute this warrant on or before July 12, 2017.” The deadline of July 12 “refer[red] to the seizure or on-site copying of the media or information, and not to any later off-site copying or review.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(e)(2)(B). The government missed this deadline. The government seized Saechao's cell phone well before July 12, 2017, but it failed to seize or extract the media until two days later.

         Although the government did not satisfy the warrant's time requirements, its conduct does not necessarily result in suppression. In United States v. Chambers, officers executed a search warrant two days after it expired. No. 1:07-CR-15, 2007 WL 287406, at *1 (S.D.Miss. Sept. 27, 2007). Despite this delay, Judge Guirola denied the defendant's motion to suppress for the following reasons: (1) there was “no showing that the delay was the result of intentional disregard of the warrant terms”; (2) the warrants were executed within the 10-day requirement of Rule 41”;[2] ...


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