United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO SUPPRESS
C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Curtis
Pippin's motion to suppress (Dkt. No. 31). Having
thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby GRANTS the motion to suppress (Dkt. No. 31) for
the reasons explained herein.
case involves two warrants based on four tips from the
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Detective Francesca Nix of the Auburn Police Department was
the officer who received these tips in or about July 2015.
(Dkt. No. 31-1 at 12-16.)
Tips A and B
and B from the NCMEC stated that the email (XXXXX)  uploaded a total of four images suspected
of being child pornography to the internet from internet
protocol (IP) address 220.127.116.11. (Id.) The IP
address belonged to mobile carrier Sprint. (Id. at
12.) The uploads took place in Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona.
(Id. at 12, 14.) Tip A reported that a secondary
email used by the uploader was ___, however the tip did not
allege that anything illicit was uploaded from that email.
(Id. at 12.)
Nix reviewed the photos uploaded by (XXXXX) and concluded that they constituted child
pornography. (Id. at 13-15.) She described the
photos in detail and explained why they constituted child
pornography in her affidavit for a search warrant.
(Id.) Detective Nix did not state in her affidavit
that she sent an administrative subpoena to (1) Google
regarding I (XXXXX), (2)
Microsoft Online Services regarding (XXXXX), or (3) Sprint regarding IP address
18.104.22.168. In her application for a warrant, Detective Nix
stated that she believed information regarding the identity
of the suspect would be found in the account records of
Google, Sprint, and Microsoft. (Id. at 16.)
Tips C and D
Nix contacted the NCMEC "to determine if additional
CyberTips had been received regarding these emails and IP
address." (Id. at 16.) She received tips C and
D in response to her request. (Id.) Detective Nix
stated that "CyberTip report #5994961 [Tip C] was
reported to NCMEC by Google stating that the email address of
(XXXXX) secondary email address of
(XXXXX) uploaded images depicting
child pornography along with the images in Cyber Tip report
#5994964 [Tip D]." (Id.) It appears that images
were provided with the tips. However, Detective Nix did not
provide copies or description of the images in her affidavit
or give any indication that she had reviewed them herself and
concluded they were child pornography. (See generally
applying for the first warrant, Detective Nix served Google,
Yahoo, Sprint, and Comcast with administrative subpoenas.
(Id. at 16-19.) From Google, she learned that the
name on the account (XXXXX) was
Curtis Pippin, with a phone number of (253) 202- 3490.
(Id. at 17.) The email had a recovery address of
(XXXXX). (Id.) The IP
address recently used by the account-but not the one used to
upload suspected child pornography-belonged to Comcast,
(Id.) From Yahoo, Detective Nix learned that the
name associated with (XXXXX) as Mr.
Jay Patterson with a zip code of 98030. (Id.) The
email had an "alternate communication channel" of
(XXXXX). (Id.) The subpoena
to Sprint for phone number (253) 202-3490 revealed that it
was registered to Curtis Pippin and he lived in Kent,
Washington. (Id. at 18.) Finally, the subpoena to
Comcast revealed that the IP address related to Google login
IP address 22.214.171.124 was attached to a Mary Kramer with
a service address of (XXXXX), Auburn,
WA, 98002. (Id.) A law enforcement database search
reported Curtis Pippin's current address in Kent, and his
previous address of (XXXXX). Auburn,
The First Affidavit and Warrant
Nix presented the above information in affidavit to King
County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas on March 30, 2016.
(Dkt. No. 31-1.) The affidavit requested a warrant to search
Google, Sprint, Microsoft Online Services, and Yahoo!, Inc.
(Id. at 2-3.) The affidavit stated that there was
probable cause to believe that ''Evidence of the
crime(s) of: RCW 9.68A.070: Possession of Depictions of
Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct" or
"Contraband, the fruits of a crime, or things otherwise
criminally possessed" would be discovered at: (1)
(XXXXX) at Google, (2)
(XXXXX) at Microsoft Online Services,
(3) (XXXXX) at Google, (4)
(XXXXX) at Yahoo!, Inc., and (5) IP
address 126.96.36.199 at Sprint. The affidavit requested a
broad range of digital information from each company.
Darvas signed the warrant but limited what could be seized.
(Id. at 26-27.) The Government was not permitted to
search the contact list; deleted content; instant
messenger/chats and logs; and groups message archives, files,
photos, polls, calendar, and links. (Id. at 27.)
Further, the Government could only search the content of the
accounts, pictures (including metadata), videos, and emails
for July 25, 2015 and the preceding 30 days. (Id. at
26.) Apparently, only Microsoft Online Services and Sprint
responded to the wan-ant. (Id. at 41-42.) Microsoft
reported that (XXXXX) was registered
to Curtis Pippin in the state of California with a zip code
of 95848. (Id. at 41.) Sprint responded that
"Sprint PCS IP address[es] are dynamic and can be
assigned to several people throughout any given day."
(Id., at 42.) The fruit of the first
warrant-that(XXXXX) was registered to Curtis Pippin-provides
the only link between Tips A and B and Tips C and D.
Nix also conducted additional investigation through Facebook,
her regional law enforcement database, the National Crime
Information Center, and the Washington State Crime
Information Center. (Id. at 40.) Based on this
investigation, Detective Nix discovered that (1) Jay
Patterson had a Facebook profile associated with
(XXXXX), (2) Curtis Pippin had a
Facebook account that associated him with Auburn, Washington,
(3) Curtis Pippin's phone number was (253) 202-3490 and
his home address was (XXXXX) in
Auburn, Washington, (4) he was convicted of Lewd and
Lascivious Acts with a child under 14 in California in 2002,
and (5) he was registered in King County as a level one sex
offender. (Id. at 40-41.)
The Second ...