CAAF search and seizure case

United States v. Huntzinger.

I. WHETHER THE MILITARY JUDGE ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT NO SOLDIER AT FORWARD OPERATING BASE (FOB) LOYALTY HAD A REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY IN ANY REGARD.

II. WHETHER THE MILITARY JUDGE ERRED IN DENYING A MOTION TO SUPPRESS APPELLANT’S EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE AND PASSWORD PROTECTED LAPTOP WHEN THE
COMMANDER WHO ORDERED THE SEIZURE OF THE EQUIPMENT IMMEDIATELY SEARCHED THE EQUIPMENT UPON SEIZURE, DEMONSTRATING THAT HE WAS PERFORMING LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNCTIONS AND WAS NOT NEUTRAL AND
DETACHED WHEN SEIZING THE ITEMS.

III. WHETHER THE DOCTRINE OF INEVITABLE DISCOVERY IS APPLICABLE WHEN THERE ARE NO INDEPENDENT POLICE ACTIVITIES, OR TESTIMONY OR EVIDENCE OF ROUTINE
POLICE PRACTICES, THAT WOULD HAVE INEVITABLY RESULTED IN DISCOVERY, AND NO OTHER EXCEPTION TO THE FOURTH AMENDMENT APPLIES.

IV. WHETHER THE ARMY COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT PROBABLE CAUSE EXISTED TO SUPPORT THE SEARCH AUTHORIZATION OF APPELLANT’S LAPTOP COMPUTER AND DETACHABLE HARD DRIVE.

The real issue became one of probable cause to search.  But CAAF also reaffirmed that there is no combat zone exception to the fourth amendment.

[T]here is no general exception for locations or living quarters in a combat zone. See United States v. Poundstone, 22 C.M.A. 277, 279, 46 C.M.R. 277, 279 (1973).

There is a useful discussion of the line between a commander who is “neutral" and one who is effectively an investigator.