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Leonard Deutchman Leonard Deutchman

In Commonwealth v. Davis, No. 56 MAP 2018 (PA Supr. Ct. Nov. 20, 2019), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, reversed the Superior Court’s and trial court’s determinations that compelling defendant to disclose his password (or passwords) to his computer, seized by warrant during an investigation of the appellant for distribution of child pornography and criminal use of a communications facility, would not violate the appellant’s protection against self-incrimination because of the “foregone conclusion” exception to the Fifth Amendment. In this month’s article, I review Davis and discuss its reasoning and what the foregone conclusion exception, in the age of computer passwords, tells us about both computers and the exception.

 

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