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United States v. Ganias

LEGAL CASE

United States v. Ganias

Army officials were investigating a contractor for theft and other misconduct arising from Army contracts. In 2003, they obtained a search warrant seeking computer files and records from the company's outside accountant, Stavros Ganias. Investigators made a mirror image of three of Ganias' computers on site, copying information relevant to the criminal investigation as well as records beyond the scope of the warrant, including Ganias' personal financial records. In 2006, investigators with the IRS began to suspect Ganias of tax evasion and obtained a search warrant allowing them to review the files seized three years earlier and kept by the government. The tax evasion investigation was unrelated to the Army's investigation. Ganias was ultimately indicted and convicted.

On appeal, a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found the government's prolonged retention and subsequent search of the computer files violated the Fourth Amendment and reversed Ganias' conviction. The government asked the Second Circuit to reconsider its decision and in July 2015, the Second Circuit agreed to rehear the case en banc.

EFF joined the ACLU, Center for Democracy & Technology, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, and the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute in an amicus brief, urging the en banc court to find the copying and search of the files violated the Fourth Amendment.

The Second Circuit will hear argument in the case on September 30, 2015 in New York City.

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