Federal appeals judges voiced skepticism Thursday that prosecutors had the right to seize urine samples of more than 100 major league players not originally involved in the BALCO drug investigation.
In a case dealing with the government's search-and-seizure power in the digital age, an 11-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals must decide whether prosecutors legally seized the names and urine samples of 104 players during a raid in April 2004.
"There has to be limits when the government seizes vast amount of information on a computer," Major League Baseball Players Association lawyer Elliot Peters said.
The federal agents who took the material from the Long Beach-based Comprehensive Drug Testing Inc. had a search warrant for the test results of just 10 players, but discovered on a computer spreadsheet the test results of additional players.
The players' association went to court, and lower-court judges ruled the additional names were seized illegally. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit reversed those decisions twice in 2-1 votes, but the entire 9th Circuit set the reversal aside and decided to hear the case en banc.