Archive | child pornography

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Circuit Holds That New York Offense of Possession of a Sexual Performance By a Child (N.Y. Penal Law §263.16) Categorically Matches 18 U.S.C §2252(a)(4)(B) and Is an Aggravated Felony Under the INA.

In Quito v. Barr, __ F.3d __ 2020 WL 218590 (2d Cir. Jan. 15, 2020) (Wesley, Livingston, Bianco),  the Second Circuit held that attempted possession of a sexual performance by a child under N.Y. Penal Law §263.16 is an aggravated felony under the INA because it categorically fits the definition of the federal offense of possessing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B), an enumerated aggravated felony. The Court rejected petitioner’s arguments that the New York statute sweeps more broadly because it does not require knowledge of the minor’s specific age and does not include the affirmative defense to §2252(a)(4)(B) for someone who possessed fewer than three images and promptly destroyed them or turned them over.

The Court ruled, as a threshold matter, that it was not bound by its previous holding in Weiland v. Lynch, 835 F.3d 207 (2d Cir. 2016),  that  a “nearly identical” New York …

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Categories: aggravated felony, categorical approach, child pornography

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Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Jenkins II: Circuit Vacates and Remands Child Pornography Sentence, Again

You may remember that, back in April 2017, the Second Circuit vacated a 225-month sentence for a person convicted of the possession and transportation of child pornography as “shockingly high.” In Jenkins I, the Circuit wrote an extensive opinion, chock-full of quotable portions for sentencing memos and appeals, about why the child pornography guidelines can produce “unreasonable results.”

On remand, however, the district court resentenced Mr. Jenkins to 200 months of imprisonment – still an exceedingly long sentence for a first conviction.

On Friday, the Circuit reversed again, this time sending the case to a new district judge. Although Jenkins II is a summary order, it still has potentially useful language about why it is error for a district court to rely on studies or statistics about people convicted of child pornography offenses as a reason to believe that a particular person committed a prior “undetected” offense. As the …

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Categories: 3553(c), child pornography

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Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Second Circuit Upholds “Barbaric,” but Somehow Substantively Reasonable, Sentence

In a remarkably fatalistic opinion, the Second Circuit rejected a substantive reasonableness challenge to a 25 year sentence for child pornography sentence charges. The sentence, the panel explained, was “barbaric without being all that unusual.” United States v. Sawyer, No. 15-2276 (2d Cir. Oct. 6, 2018) (Jacobs, Pooler, Crawford (D. Vt.)), available here.

The defendant in Sawyer was initially sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment on charges of sexual exploitation and receiving child pornography. The defendant’s PSR documented that the defendant suffered a childhood of severe physical and sexual abuse. The district judge described this childhood as “horrific” and “nightmarish,” but admonished the defendant that “I can’t excuse that darkness in your heart and soul that made you prey upon two innocent children.” Slip op. at 3-4. (The defendant was prosecuted for having, but not distributing, graphic cellphone photos of two young girls with whom he had …

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Categories: child pornography, law-of-the-case doctrine, substantive reasonableness

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Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Circuit Upholds Warrantless Search of Car, Remands for Resentencings to Consider Downward Departures and Concurrent Sentences

In United States v. Jones, the Circuit affirmed the district court’s refusal to suppress evidence seized during a warrantless search of a car parked in the common parking lot of a multi-family building.  The Circuit held Jones had no legitimate expectation of privacy in his car because it was parked in a driveway shared by tenants of two multi-family homes, not within the curtilage of his private home, and he did not have exclusive control over the driveway.  Op. at 13-15.

In United States v. Sawyer, the Circuit remanded the case for the second time, this time for resentencing in front of a new district judge.  The Circuit previously had vacated as substantively unreasonable a 360-month sentence for the offenses of producing and receiving child pornography.  In that opinion, the Circuit held that the “30-year sentence would have been appropriate for ‘extreme and heinous criminal behavior’ and the …

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Categories: automobile exception, child pornography, concurrent, curtilage

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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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