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State v. Brennan

February 03, 2004

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
RON MARTIN BRENNAN, APPELLANT.



Hennepin County District Court File No. 01079085

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Anderson, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Probable cause to search a house for evidence of child pornography exists when the totality of the circumstances, including the training and experience of the search-warrant affiant and the nature of the crime, establish a fair probability that child pornography will be found in the house.

2. A defendant is entitled to notice of the district court's intention to consider an upward durational departure in sentencing and without such notice, a departure is error.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. Barry Anderson, Judge

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

OPINION

After the district court denied appellant Ron Brennan's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a search of his home, the parties submitted this case to the court on stipulated facts. The district court found Brennan guilty of five counts of possession of child pornography, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 617.246;.247, subd. 4 (2000). The district court sentenced Brennan to a 19-month stayed sentence, placed him on probation for three years, and ordered him to complete sex-offender treatment.

Brennan now challenges his conviction and sentence, arguing that (1) the search of his house was unlawful because the warrant authorizing the search was not supported by probable cause and (2) the district court abused its discretion by imposing an upward durational sentencing departure. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

FACTS

Brennan worked for the American Cancer Society (ACS) from March 1999 until March 2001. The ACS assigned Brennan a laptop computer to use at work. It later terminated Brennan's employment, after discovering that Brennan had used the computer to view pornography while at work. After the ACS terminated Brennan's employment, it put Brennan's laptop in a locked, secured storage area.

In September 2001, an ACS information-and-technology technician archived Brennan's laptop and found hidden directories containing images of child pornography. The ACS contacted the Edina Police Department and relinquished the laptop to the police.

A subsequent forensic examination of Brennan's laptop revealed multiple images of child pornography. These images had been stored on the laptop on different dates, including October 29, 2000; January 17, 2001; and February 22, 2001.

After Brennan admitted to police that he had stored images of child pornography on his ACS laptop, the police applied for a warrant to search Brennan's house. In relevant part, ...


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