Thursday, August 27, 2009

Baseball Steroid Case Brings Us Interesting Search Warrant Ruling

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Justice Department cannot retain electronic records of positive steroid tests of Major League baseball players because the federal government exceeded the scope of the search warrant when they seized the records. In 2004 federal agents raided the Bay Area Lab Cooperative (BALCO) in San Francisco and executed a search warrant. The search warrant authorized agents to search the computer records of Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc., for the drug testing results of 10 specific players. Agents seized all of the records containing information on the test results of hundreds of baseball players. The Justice Department argued that they should be allowed to retain all of the records because they were found in plain view. The Court rejected this argument and found that the plain view doctrine does not extend to electronic searches. The federal government had argued that they stumbled upon this information while they were searching for information on the 10 players. The players union argued that they should not be allowed to retain the records because they did not have a warrant for the records of all the players.

The Court severely criticized the federal government for being "too clever" and was worried about the government seizing all the computers and checking all of the computers to find the specific information and then retaining all of it without a warrant.

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