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Criminal procedure — Motion to suppress evidence — Compact disc

This case turns on whether, and for how long, David James Montgomery retained a legitimate expectation of privacy in a compact disc (“CD”) that he left in a laptop he pawned and failed to redeem. The CD, which contained child pornography, was discovered by a pawnshop employee preparing the laptop for resale. Mr. Montgomery was charged in the Circuit Court for Washington County with sexual abuse of a minor, filming a minor engaging in sexual conduct, and related offenses. He filed a pretrial motion to suppress the CD that the circuit court denied after finding that he had abandoned the CD. He went to trial on an agreed statement of facts, and the court found him guilty of sexual abuse of a minor and filming a minor engaging in sexual conduct.

On appeal, Mr. Montgomery contends that the circuit court erred in concluding that he abandoned the CD, and argues that he had retained a constitutionally protected privacy interest that the police violated by viewing the CD without consent or a warrant. The State counters that Mr. Montgomery abandoned the CD when he left it in the laptop and failed to reclaim it.

Read the opinion here: