Corporate legal departments have caught another break on the e-discovery front, thanks to an appeals court ruling that reaffirms the idea that electronic data seized during a criminal investigation can’t be retained unless it’s in the scope of a search warrant.
The ruling also gives a de facto blueprint for both government agents and judges to follow when issuing warrants for electronic information, and that ultimately may be the most important consequence, legal experts say.
The decision, U.S. v. Comprehensive Drug-Testing, was handed down by the
California-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 26. More commonly known as the BALCO case, the dispute has spawned a long line of litigation stemming from steroid use among professional baseball players.
As Compliance Week previously reported, government agents in the BALCO probe executed a search warrant while investigating whether the Bay Area Lab Cooperative sold steroids to baseball players. Based on the seized data, agents then obtained confidential medical records of other players who tested positive for steroids, and then used that data to get more search warrants. Government lawyers reasoned that they should be allowed to retain and use information not included in their original search warrant because it came into “plain view.”
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By: Jaclyn Jaeger