SPRINGFIELD (WEEK) — The Illinois Supreme Court is overseeing the case of a former Peoria police officer, who was previously convicted on several child pornography charges.
According to the Appellant’s Brief, in 2014 the Peoria Police Department obtained a copy of the copy of John McCavitt’s hard drive and, “days later, discovered incriminating images that ultimately led to defendant’s conviction.”
McCavitt was later acquitted of those charges. In 2019, the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa released its 2-1 decision, citing that the trial court “erred in denying defendant’s motion to suppress.”
The issues being presented in 2021 to the Illinois Supreme Court include the following:
“1. Whether an officer’s warrantless examination of a copy of a copy of defendant’s hard drive did not violate defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights for any of three independent reasons. First, the warrantless review was a permissible “second look” that was no broader than the “first look” authorized by an unchallenged and presumptively valid search warrant that reduced defendant’s expectation of privacy. Second, defendant had such significantly reduced privacy and possessory interests in the hard drive copy, for several reasons, that its examination did not constitute a “search” triggering the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. Third, even if a “search,” the officer’s review was reasonable because it constituted, at most, a minimal intrusion on defendant’s privacy and possessory interests while diligently promoting compelling law enforcement interests.”
“2. Alternatively, whether the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule should apply because the officer reasonably concluded that his warrantless search was permissible under binding precedent.”
“The Peoria P.D. violated the Fourth Amendment when it searched the copy of his hard drive without after his acquittal without probable cause and a valid warrant. Any evidence derived from that search should be suppressed. The judgment of the Court of Appeals should be affirmed.”
“At every stage, officers in this case acted prudently to ensure that their conduct comported with the Fourth Amendment. They obtained a warrant to search defendant’s hard drive for evidence of criminal sexual assault. When this initial search revealed evidence of unauthorized video recording of a separate victim, police obtained a second warrant to search for evidence of that crime. After the second search revealed evidence of child pornography, officers obtained a third search warrant permitting a search for evidence of that third crime. Thus, the officers’ conduct comported with the Fourth Amendment. Even if it did not, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule should apply to avoid the drastic remedy of excluding evidence of defendant’s guilt of child pornography.”
The Illinois Supreme court is expected to rule on McCavitt case in the coming months.
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