Court Suppresses Email Evidence in Bear Sterns Case
By Stuart K. Tubis – Edited by Jad Mills
U.S. v. Cioffi, et al., Case No. 08-CR-415 (FB) (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2009)
Slip Opinion (hosted by WSJ)
The Eastern District of New York granted defendant Matthew Tannin’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from his personal Gmail account. Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin were charged with conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud in connection with their roles as Bear Sterns hedge fund managers. Prosecutors obtained a warrant to search Tannin’s personal Gmail account, but the warrant failed to specify what evidence could be seized or to what crimes the evidence must relate. After some initial difficulty, Google delivered a copy of the email account to the Government. As the Wall Street Journal reported, one email contained a comment that funds Tannin managed could “blow up.” Tannin moved to suppress this evidence on the ground that it violated the Fourth Amendment.
District Judge Block held that the warrant was facially overbroad and thus violated the Fourth Amendment. The Court reasoned that because the warrant itself was not particular as to either the items to be seized or to a particular crime, and because the affidavit was not attached or incorporated into the warrant, the warrant was unconstitutional. The court also held that the warrant did not merit a “good faith” or “inevitable discovery” exception, largely because the executing officers should have known the warrant was overbroad.
The Wall Street Journal provides a brief overview of the case. The Eric Goldman Blog also provides a summary of the case. Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy criticizes the ruling, saying that the good faith exception should have been granted since the case law was not firmly established at the time of execution. (more…)