United States v. Fifer, No. 16-2812 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Police used a confidential source to buy heroin from registered sex offender Fifer. They obtained a state court warrant to search for evidence including cell phones and computers. They discovered a half‐naked 16‐year‐old girl (C) under a bed. C initially refused to come out and lied about her name and age. An officer attempted to identify her by looking through electronic devices found in the apartment. When the officer found sexually explicit images of C and Fifer, he brought in the sex‐crimes division, which secured C’s cooperation. C. revealed that she and Fifer lived together and had produced sex videos. Police got a federal warrant to search the electronic devices for child pornography. The application did not mention the initial on‐site search but was based on C.T.’s statements. Its execution revealed sexually explicit images of C and Fifer. Fifer was charged with producing child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2251(a), (e). The court found probable cause, denied a motion to suppress, and admitted Fifer’s prior sex offender conviction after Fifer testified that his “sole purpose” was to enhance their loving relationship. The Seventh Circuit affirmed Fifer’s convictions. The affidavit supporting the state warrant clearly established at least a probability of criminal activity at Fifer’s apartment and no reasonably well‐trained officer would have believed that the search was illegal. Exigent circumstances justified the on-site search of the electronic devices. Fifer’s proffered evidence of his knowledge of C's age or their “loving relationship” was irrelevant to whether he violated the statute, Accurately identifying witnesses by their titles did not impermissibly bolster their testimony.