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Workplace Issues United States of America v Ziegler Case Study

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Discussion 5.2: Workplace Issues. Chapter 17- Question#1 and Question#6
Case: United States of America v. Ziegler,474 F.3d 1184 [9thCir. 2007]
Question #1: Did this employee have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of
his workplace computer?
Answer
In this case study, according to the Court, the employee Ziegler had a reasonable
expectation of privacy in the contents of his workplace computer because Ziegler had his own
private office which he kept locked and his own personal workplace computer was used only by
him and not shared by co-workers. His computer was also password protected by him. He had a
reasonable expectation that Ziegler's downloading of personal items to the computer did not
destroy the employer's common authority and the Fourth Amendment could protect him from
any search of that office and the items located therein.
Did the government violate his constitutional rights by conducting an illegal search? Why or
Why not?
Answer
The government did not violate his constitutional rights by conducting an illegal search
because Ziegler's employer validly consented to the government to conduct the search of his
office and workplace computer. According to the Fourth Amendment, a search of private
property without proper consent is `unreasonable' unless it has been authorized by a valid search
warrant but in some special cases, without warrant, search is legal with reasonable cause. In this
case, the employee Ziegler was accessing child pornography from his workplace computer which

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was not legal. The employer has given valid consent to the government (FBI) for searching
Ziegler's workplace computer and the contents of the hard drive because all of the computers in
the workplace were the property of the employer, and the employer has authority to monitor all
employees’ Internet activity. Employees were instructed at the time of hiring that computers
should not be used for personal activities.
Reference:
Roberson, C. (2015). Constitutional law and criminal justice. CRC Press.

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Discussion 5.2: Workplace Issues. Chapter 17- Question#1 and Question#6 Case: United States of America v. Ziegler,474 F.3d 1184 [9thCir. 2007] Question #1: Did this employee have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of his workplace computer? Answer In this case study, according to the Court, the employee Ziegler had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of his workplace computer because Ziegler had his own private office which he kept locked and his own personal workplace computer was used only by him and not shared by co-workers. His computer was also password protected by him. He had a reasonable expectation that Ziegler's downloading of personal items to the computer did not destroy the employer's common authority and the Fourth Amendment could protect him from any search of that office and the items located therein. Did the government violate his constit ...
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