Archive | child pornography

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Anthony Weiner’s Sentencing Memo

The Second Circuit’s most recent criminal opinions involve rather boutique issues. The Circuit has addressed, for example, whether a bail bond forfeiture must be vacated if a defendant dies while his appeal his pending (no), and whether the Circuit has jurisdiction to review a conviction when the defendant writes in the administrative section of the appeal form that he only seeking review of his sentence (yes).

Meanwhile, in the Southern District, Anthony Weiner’s attorneys have filed an interesting and detailed sentencing memorandum. The memo is instructive to attorneys representing defendants in child pornography cases. Of particular interest is the memo’s exhaustively researched argument section. Part I argues that the Guidelines provide an unreliable benchmark for determining the appropriate sentence in child pornography cases. Part II.A identifies aggravating factors that are often present in child pornography cases but which are absent from this case. The case discussion in …


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Categories: child pornography, forfeiture, sentencing, sentencing findings, sex offenses

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Friday, July 21st, 2017

Second Circuit Tosses Indictments Following Fifth Amendment Violation, Denies Rehearing in Jenkins

Earlier this week, in United States v. Allen, the Second Circuit reversed the defendants’ convictions and dismissed the indictments against them.  You can access the Circuit’s 81-page opinion here.  The Circuit considered whether a witness’s involuntary testimony that was compelled by a foreign government can be used against in a U.S. prosecution.  In its introduction, the Circuit outlined its four-step conclusion:

First, the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition on the use of compelled testimony in American criminal proceedings applies even when a foreign sovereign has compelled the testimony.

Second, when the government makes use of a witness who had substantial exposure to a defendant’s compelled testimony, it is required under Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441 (1972), to prove, at a minimum, that the witness’s review of the compelled testimony did not shape, alter, or affect the evidence used by the government.

Third, a bare, generalized denial of …


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Categories: child pornography, Fifth Amendment

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Monday, April 17th, 2017

Second Circuit Vacates 225-month Sentence in Child Pornography Case as Substantively Unreasonable

Today, in United States v. Jenkins, the Second Circuit concluded that a 225-month sentence for the possession and transportation of child pornography was substantively unreasonable and vacated and remanded for resentencing, concluding that the district court’s sentence “went far overboard” and was “shockingly high”  Opinion at 11, 12.

Jenkins was convicted after trial of one count of possession of child pornography (18 U.S.C. 2252A(a)(5)(B)) and one count of transportation of child pornography (18 U.S.C. 2252A(a)(1)).  He was sentenced to concurrent time of 120 months on the possession count (the statutory maximum) and 225 months on the transportation count (just below the statutory maximum of 240 months), and to 25 years of supervised release.  The child pornography he possessed (and brought with him on a family vacation to Canada) was for personal use.  He did not produce or distribute child pornography and did not attempt to contact a minor.  This …


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Categories: child pornography, guideline

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Thursday, December 8th, 2016

60-year Sentence in Child Pornography Case Is Found Substantively Reasonable

On Tuesday, the Second Circuit issued a decision in United States v. Brown. The opinion presents an interesting debate about how the federal system punishes defendants accused of child pornography charges. I encourage defense attorneys to check out both the concurrence and dissent, for some powerful arguments about the risks of unreasonable sentences in child pornography cases.

The opinion examines defendant Nathan Brown’s 60-year sentence for procedural and substantive reasonableness. The defendant pleaded guilty to 3 counts of production of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) and 2 counts of possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B).

The majority (J. Droney) begins with a recitation of some of the more egregious facts, which you can find on pp. 3-11. The basics: The defendant took sexually-explicit photos of girls, ranging in ages from 8 -12, who were in his care and then uploaded …


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Categories: child pornography, sentencing

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Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

The 5-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(3)(B) for distribution of child pornography “for the receipt, or expectation of receipt, of a thing of value,” requires “specific, individualized evidence” of the bargained-for exchange.

Last week, the Second Circuit vacated the sentence in United States v. Bennett, No. 15-0024 (“Opinion”). The Court held that, in order to justify the 5-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(3)(B) for distribution of child pornography “for the receipt, or expectation of receipt, of a thing of value,” “the Government must advance specific, individualized evidence that [a defendant] provided access to his collection of child pornography to another user with the expectation that that user would provide similar access to other child-pornography files.” Opinion at 15. In this case, the Court held the 5-level enhancement was justified because the defendant had engaged in the quid pro quo exchange of passwords protecting child pornography files with other users. Despite finding that the enhancement applied, the Circuit vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing because the District Court (Sullivan, J.) failed properly to calculate the applicable guideline to reflect the fact that, because …


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Categories: child pornography, guideline

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Friday, June 24th, 2016

Conditions of Supervised Release Must Be Reasonably Related To Sentencing Objectives

The Circuit issued decisions in four criminal cases today.

In United States v. Brown, 14-4643, the Court vacated and remanded for resentencing.  The district court had imposed special conditions of supervision, but had not given any explanation for the conditions or stated the relationship between the conditions and any sentencing objective.  But a district court does not have “untrammeled” discretion in imposing special conditions of supervised release, the Circuit explained, and “usual and severe conditions,” like those impinging on a First Amendment right, will be “carefully scrutinize[d].”  The district court “is required to make an individualized assessment when determining whether to impose a special condition of supervised release and to state on the record the reason for imposing it.”  Because the district court failed to do so, and the reason for the special conditions was not “self-evident in the record,” the Circuit vacated the special conditions and remanded …


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Categories: child pornography, supervised release

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Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

How Severe is Too Severe (for Production of Child Porn)?

“Serious nonhomicide crimes may be devastating in their harm[,] but in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public, they cannot be compared to murder in their severity and irreovocability.”  So said the Second Circuit today in United States v. Brown, No. 13-1706-cr (June 14, 2016)  (quoting the Supreme Court decision in Graham v. Flordia, 560 U.S. 48, 69 (2010)), in remanding a 60-year sentence for production of child pornography on procedural grounds that look awfully substantive.  The opinion contains must-use language for advocates at sentencing for a less-than-extreme sentence in any non-homicide case.

The majority opinion (written by J. Pooler with J. Sack signing on) found that the District Court (J. Sharpe, NDNY) may have misunderstood certain facts in imposing a virtual life sentence for photographing and disseminating sexual images of three young girls and possessing thousands of other images of …


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Categories: child pornography, procedural reasonableness, sentencing, substantive reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Advising Clients Regarding Sexual Polygraph Exams and the Fifth Amendment in Child Pornography Cases

Earlier this week, in United States v. Von Behren, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that requiring that a person on supervised release answer questions on a sexual history polygraph that are designed to elicit admissions of criminal conduct violates the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination.  You can read a copy of the opinion here.  Thank you to the folks at the Sentencing Resource Counsel for forwarding the opinion and congratulations to Assistant Federal Defender John T. Carlson who won the case before the Tenth Circuit.

This issue presents itself in many SDNY and EDNY cases, perhaps most frequently in possession of child pornography cases.  If your client is sentenced to a term of supervised release that contains a special condition regarding compliance with a sexual history polygraph, make sure you advise your client to assert his Fifth Amendment right, to do so in writing to his …


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Categories: child pornography, self-incrimination, sex offenses

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Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Second Circuit “Disturb[ed] That District Courts Do Not Routinely Follow” Rule 11

rule 11 meme

Today in United States v. Pattee, the Second Circuit (Calabresi, Lynch, Lohier, CJJ.) found it “disturbing that district courts do not routinely follow the minimal procedures put in place to protect defendants’ rights.”

In accepting a guilty plea to producing, distributing and possessing child pornography, the district court (Geraci, Ch.J.) failed to advise the defendant of “five of the approximately fifteen rights” listed in Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11.  The Circuit found this troubling, as the “Court has stated time and again that [w]e have adopted a standard of strict adherence to Rule 11” and that “compliance with Rule 11 is not a difficult task” because “errors can be avoided if a district or magistrate judge has a standard script for accepting guilty pleas. . . .  Yet failures to meet those requirements are a recurring issue.”  The Court further cautioned that “even strict adherence to Rule 11 …


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Categories: child pornography, ineffective assistance of counsel, Rule 11

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Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

EDNY Update: Judge Pohorelsky Finds Adam Walsh Act Mandatory Bail Provision Unconstitutional, Judge DeArcy Hall Reverses Bail Determination

On Friday, in the EDNY, Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky found that the Adam Walsh Amendments to the Bail Reform Act violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment.  The case was United States v. Kim, 16-mj-280 (VVP), and the transcript is available here: Kim_16MJ280_Transcript 4.8.16.

For those charged with crimes involving a minor, Adam Walsh requires the nondiscretionary imposition of specific pretrial release conditions, including electronic monitoring and a curfew, depriving defendants of any opportunity to contest whether such conditions are necessary, and denying judges the ability to make individualized determinations as to the least restrictive bail conditions.  In this case, where the defendant is charged with receipt and possession of child pornography, the court found that electronic monitoring was not necessary to assure his appearance or the safety of the community.  Judge Pohorelsky ordered that the …


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Categories: bail, child pornography, due process

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Woe Betide Those Who Park on the Wrong Side of the Street (and those who produce child pornography)

no-parking-sign-e1446323913593

No relevant opinions today; two summary orders.

In United States v. Grady, Syracuse police noticed that Grady’s car was parked in violation of the city’s odd/even street parking rules.  They approached the car, shone their flashlights inside and saw, in plain view, a bag of crack cocaine on Grady’s lap.  A loaded gun was also found in the car.

Assuming the officers’ approach of the car constituted a stop, the Court (Jacobs, Hall, Lynch, CJJ) held there was reasonable suspicion given the car’s being parked on the wrong side of the street.  Though a car isn’t “parked” if it’s stopped only to load or unload goods or passengers, the officers observed no such activity and the Court held they watched the car for long enough — 10 seconds — before deciding to approach.  “The officers were not required to conduct surveillance long enough to ‘rule out the possibility of …


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Categories: car stop, child pornography, expert witnesses, Fourth Amendment, reasonable suspicion, substantive reasonableness

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