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May 21, 2010

"Judge Weinstein Takes On Child Pornography Laws"

The title of this post is the headline of this effective new article in the New York Times, which gives special attention to Judge Jack Weinstein's handling of the Polizzi case.  Here is the start of the must-read piece:

In his 43-year career as a federal judge, Jack B. Weinstein has come to be identified by his efforts to combat what he calls “the unnecessary cruelty of the law.” His most recent crusade is particularly striking because of the beneficiary: a man who has amassed a vast collection of child pornography.

Judge Weinstein, who sits in the United States District Court in Brooklyn, has twice thrown out convictions that would have ensured that the man spend at least five years behind bars. He has pledged to break protocol and inform the next jury about the mandatory prison sentence that the charges carry. And he recently declared that the man, who is awaiting a new trial, did not need an electronic ankle bracelet because he posed “no risk to society.”

There is little public sympathy for collectors of child pornography. Yet across the country, an increasing number of federal judges have come to their defense, criticizing changes to sentencing laws that have effectively quadrupled their average prison term over the last decade.

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a 20-year child pornography sentence by ruling that the sentencing guidelines for such cases, “unless applied with great care, can lead to unreasonable sentences.” The decision noted that the recommended sentences for looking at pictures of children being sexually abused sometimes eclipse those for actually sexually abusing a child.

Judge Weinstein has gone to extraordinary lengths to challenge the strict punishments, issuing a series of rulings that directly attack the mandatory five-year prison sentence faced by defendants charged with receiving child pornography.

“I don’t approve of child pornography, obviously,” he said in an interview this week. But, he also said, he does not believe that those who view the images, as opposed to producing or selling them, present a threat to children. “We’re destroying lives unnecessarily,” he said. “At the most, they should be receiving treatment and supervision.”

The man he has spent three years trying to save from a long incarceration is Pietro Polizzi, a married father of five who collected more than 5,000 graphic pictures of children. If prosecuted in a New York State court, he would have faced a maximum prison sentence of four years. Instead, in federal court, he faced a minimum of five years and a recommended sentence of 11 to 14 years. Because of Judge Weinstein’s intervention, he remains free as he awaits another trial.

“I don’t see Judge Weinstein as a judge,” Mr. Polizzi said during an interview as tears rolled down his face. “I see him as my father. He helps people. He doesn’t destroy lives the way the prosecutor has. He’s the one who is going to set me free from the court.”

May 21, 2010 at 07:29 PM | Permalink

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Now, if only more judges were like this one.

Posted by: Huh? | May 21, 2010 9:58:12 PM

"Judge Weinstein Takes On Child Pornography Laws"

I had not previously been aware that it is the job of a judge to "take on" the law. One can only imagine the New York Times' uproar if the headlne were, "Bush-Appointed Judge Takes On Environmental Laws." Think the Left would be going goo-goo over that one?

If the law needs changing, that is the job of Congress. This Congress is as friendly to the sort of change liberals want than any Congress there is likely to be for quite some time. Take it up with Nancy Pelosi. It's her job, not Weinstein's.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 21, 2010 11:04:08 PM

sure it is. he's a JUDGE part of what he is supposed to be judging is the law itself as applied.

Just like the jury.

Jury has 3 questions.

1. Did the individual comit the crime

2. If so is the law being applied fair and resonable as applied in this case.

3. If one and two are yes. then convict. IF EITHER is no. You aquit.


THAT is supposed to be the final failsafe in our justice system. The govt in the person of the nazi's who write the laws and the other place holders who enforce them. can make them as crazy and outrageous as they want. but if the courts refuse to do THEIR job and can the laws and the idiots who pass em! the it becomes the JURY's job to simply REFUSE TO CONVICT.

Posted by: rodsmith | May 22, 2010 1:18:07 AM

At a more practical level, isn't Weinstein just begging to get thrown off this case in the near future by the circuit? I would think giving interviews to the press essentially (if not specifically) about pending cases would be the final straw.

Posted by: Jay | May 22, 2010 2:26:44 AM

You do not have Obiter in the USA?

NLO

Posted by: Dr NL Oldfield | May 22, 2010 5:18:07 AM

Weinstein stated before sentencing a defendant, "This is an unnecessarily harsh and cruel sentence under the circumstances. the court has no alternative under the statute. ...I'm sorry, there is nothing I can do in this case."

Graham v Florida, in my opinion, makes it crystal clear there is something he can do if he wants to. Declare that the excessive sentence violates the Eighth Amendment as applied in this particular case. I don't understand why judges don't see that they are not powerless. In Graham, Kennedy specifically says it is the judiciary's job to interpret the Constitution, not the legislature's and if a mandatory minimum sentence is excessive, then a judge should strike it down.


bruce

Posted by: bruce cunningham | May 22, 2010 9:10:46 AM

bruce --

The problem is that a five year statutory minimum sentence for "a vast collection of child pornography" (the NYT's description) gathered by an adult man is not even remotely like LWOP for a juvenile. The striking down of such a sentence as an Eighth Amendment violation is a defense lawyer fantasy, not a realistic possibility. Do you think Weinstein is empowered to overrule Harmelin, which the Graham majority conspicuously declined to do? Because striking down a five year statutory minimum for kiddie porn cannot possibly be done while Harmelin is still on the books.

For as irresponsible and arrogant as the courts have become, there is still not a single vote on either the Second Circuit or the SCOTUS for the result you suggest. If I were still doing appeals for the USAO for the EDVA, I would tell Weinstein to his face that if he tanked the statutory minimum, I would file an appeal that day in the Fourth Circuit, seeking not merely reversal but reassignment of sentencing before a different judge -- in that case and every other kiddie porn case that Weinstein was handling.

And if a judge had a similarly ironclad and pre-determined attitude in favor of the government in a case you were handling, you'd do the same.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 22, 2010 10:23:22 AM

Bill, you are missing the difference between a facial challenge to a statute and an as applied challenge to the application of a statute to a particular defendant in a particular case.

If Graham means anything, it means that the Eighth Amendment contains a proportionality component in the noncapital context. I don't see how Graham can be read any other way.

bruce

Posted by: bruce cunningham | May 22, 2010 10:55:26 AM

further Bill, I suggest that Weinstein follow Harmelin , not overrule Harmelin. bruce

Posted by: bruce cunningham | May 22, 2010 10:58:02 AM

Jury nullification or wise, brave judges like Weinstein. There's no other way back from these mindlessly harsh laws Congress churns out (and prosecutors make worse by riffing on them).

And since coercing plea agreements is a snap, that only leaves judges to stand between pathetic citizens like Polizzi and an increasingly oppressive government.

Get real, Bill. Jackals in Congress (and their wannabe challengers) feed on "weak" (even-handed, fair-minded) gestures by any in the pack. The job's about inciting mobs then sating them or jumping out front of mobs and enshrining their fearful, hateful inclinations into law.

Bruce is right, of course, but most judges seem as reluctant to invoke constitutional principles as Congress is to simply do the right thing in the first place.

Posted by: John K | May 22, 2010 12:24:46 PM

bruce --

There is no such thing as an as-applied exception to a STATUTORY MANDATORY MINIMUM. "Mandatory" means all the time, no exceptions. Once a district judge makes an exception, he has overturned the very heart of the statute.

Even if such a thing were allowed by Graham, which it is not, and proportionality review were allowed for a minimum sentence dictated by Congress, it would not avail this defendant, because five years is not disproportionate to his offense if Harmelin retains any authority whatever. Nor is there a single precedent holding that five years is Constitutionally disproportionate to a collection of 5000 images of kiddie porn.

What you're after is for one of the most pro-criminal federal district judges in the country to pave the way to the end of mandatory minimums, period. As I say, this is just a defense lawyer's fantasy. It is, however, a revealing fantasy: The defense wants sentencing to be taken away from the legislature IN ITS ENTIRETY and given over to the individual trial judges. God forbid that the people's representatives should have a say about the minimum they will accept when some creep wants to get off on a picture, or a few thousand pictures, of their five year-old being forced into sex with an animal.

I said before that there is not a single vote on the Second Circuit for this, nor on the Supreme Court, and I will bet you a steak dinner on it. Deal?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 22, 2010 12:37:42 PM

John K --

You have about as much use for representative government as King George. What's your alternative? Rule by the fiat of Jeremiah Wright? Who, then?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 22, 2010 12:42:16 PM

My alternative is encouraging judges to act as though they are part of a branch of representative government that is truly co-equal.

I cringe almost every time a judge "defers" so grandstanding morons in Congress can wreak mischief and mayhem.

Posted by: John K | May 22, 2010 1:01:47 PM

John K --

Striking down statutes because of the individual tastes of district judges -- and that is what is really going on with Weinstein -- is not "co-equal." It is judicial imperialism in its purest form.

I don't like the results of the last two elections one little bit, but I am obliged by the social contract to accept the results no matter how disastrous I think them to be.

So are you.

bruce --

It's not just Harmelin that does in the result you would achieve. It's Hutto v. Davis, which Kennedy cited in his Harmelin concurrence. This is what he said: "In Hutto v. Davis, 454 U.S. 370, 374, and n. 3 (1982), we recognized the possibility of proportionality review but held it inapplicable to a 40-year prison sentence for possession with intent to distribute nine ounces of marijuana."

If 40 years for nine ounces of pot doesn't invoke proportionality review, no serious person could believe that 5 years for 5000 images of kiddie porn will.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 22, 2010 1:16:04 PM

"If 40 years for nine ounces of pot doesn't invoke proportionality review...."

Which brings us back to "I'm a criminal and so are you" because how many of our last few presidents played with drugs? And that includes President Bush.

There is something wrong with that picture. Originalist proportionality review has little to do with reality today. Indeed, drugs were not illegal back then so there really isn't any Originalist interpretation possible unless it would be to find drugs should be legal.

Posted by: George | May 22, 2010 4:56:21 PM

Gads George, what part of the Constitution prohibits Congress from criminalizing drugs? Whatever part it is, you should have run that right over to the Supremes five years ago, before they decided Gonzales v. Raich, in which -- per Justice Stevens, no less, not exactly your big originalist -- they held that the Commerce Clause is sufficiently broad to authorize Congress to criminalize drugs.

As for proportionality review "today": It was only this week that the Court had a golden opportunity to overrule Hutto and/or Harmelin, and conspicuously did neither.

P.S. Since you're not a lawyer or a doctor, what are you? Professor? Non-profit executive?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 22, 2010 5:39:33 PM

"Which brings us back to "I'm a criminal and so are you" because how many of our last few presidents played with drugs? And that includes President Bush."

Signed,

A concerned citizen.

Posted by: George | May 22, 2010 5:52:24 PM

If I had said we're all criminals, the commenters on this board would have exploded that this is the kind of overblown nonsense you'd expect from a pro-prosecution type who can't see the good in anyone.

If the ACLU says it, then yes, by golly, just so, and the presidents are criminals too, including Bush.

News flash: The truth vel non of Statement X does not depend on the speaker.

In this case, the statement is baloney, for the reasons previously outlined. The claim that there's no difference, and that the law recognizes no difference, between a teenager puffing a joint and some guy in his thirties pistol whipping the bank teller is beyond preposterous.

Yes, George, I'm sure you're a concerned citizen. And you make arguments instead of just throwing ad hominem darts, so I have no particular objection to your remaining anonymous. But just saying what you do, with no other detail, is not exactly an expose'.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 22, 2010 6:54:30 PM

I have a question: What if the other extreme was true, that this judge had it out for this type of crime and decided that the maximum's were out of line and decided to double or triple them. What would be the outcome?

Posted by: Joe | May 22, 2010 7:42:43 PM

Joe --

You make an excellent point. The enthusiasm for muscular judicial discretion in sentencing would dry up in a New York minute if it were thought that the discretion would be used to jack up sentences rather than jack them down.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 22, 2010 8:01:02 PM

Mr. Bill, the details were in the article but you decided to ignore the big picture and pretend its only intent was to play the race card. There was an article some years back that quoted a Sgt in the police department (or maybe it was a sheriff) in Arizona, if you can believe that. This Sgt said, "When everyone is criminal, no one is because respect for the law is blurred." He was talking about too many laws.

I'm arguing, by citing the Bible and psychology, that it is not only blurred, but is is impossible to see clearly when our presidents committed the crimes that many go to prison for with lengthy sentences.

Something is skewed. Indeed, as Machiavelli said, "There is no saint like a reformed sinner." In other words, as both projection and the Bible posit, when we fail to acknowledge our own sins, we become more punitive.

That is not arguing everyone should be let out of prison or that everyone deserves a second chance. I think though that if everyone thought there COULD be second chance, it would make for better sentencing policy because hope is helpful to the social contract. Indeed, it may be essential. Hopelessness leads to desperation and the desperate put little reliance on the social contract.

Saying all they have to do is get a job and obey the law begs the question.

Posted by: George | May 23, 2010 12:16:00 AM

I hope you do not mind my chiming in with a few thoughts since I am not an attorney, nor even politically minded. What I have to say is not necessarily something that pertains to one particular circuit or judge but something I noticed mentioned a couple of times in the comments after this piece; the number of images found. I wonder if that really makes a difference.
It doesn't tell us anything about the offenders past behavior or the risk of reoffending. A total number alone doesn’t even tell us if there was evidence that the pictures were viewed.
Additionally, that number gets jacked up quickly if even a few short video’s are involved since by and large they will count a certain number of images for each second of video (or some similar method), which will bring the total number of images up fairly quickly.

Posted by: Joann | May 23, 2010 2:01:35 AM

Bill, I don't think the fact that there is a statutory minimum sentence makes any difference as far as the power of the judiciary to decide that that a particular sentence in a particular case violates the constitution. You seem to ignore Marbury v Madison's basic holding that it is the judiciary that decides what the constitution means.


bruce

Posted by: bruce cunningham | May 23, 2010 6:28:07 AM

bruce --

There's a big difference between saying that the courts CAN overturn a statutory mandatory minimum (Marbury v. Madison), and that they WILL. Graham neither dealt with a mandatory minimum, nor did it break new ground in announcing proportionality review outside the death penalty context. Thus it was not the revolutionary development you and others seem to think.

Proportionality review of non-death sentences was explictily recognized in Hutto almost 30 years ago. In all the time since, not a single minimum sentence required by statute has been thrown out on Eighth Amendment grounds.

My point is that proportionality review, as actually practiced under Graham and the pre-Graham cases that Graham preserved (such as Hutto and Harmelin), gives absolutely no reason to think that Weinstein would be able to get away with less than the five-year mandatory minimum in this case.

As I said before, quoting Kennedy in his Harmelin concurrence (my emphasis): "In Hutto v. Davis, 454 U.S. 370, 374, and n. 3 (1982), we recognized the possibility of proportionality review BUT HELD IT INAPPLICABLE to a 40-year prison sentence for possession with intent to distribute nine ounces of marijuana."

Since 40 years for nine ounces of pot is NOT sufficient to trigger proportionality review, no serious person could believe that 5 years for 5000 images of kiddie porn will do the job. It's a massively more lenient sentence for a crime that almost anyone would regard as at least as serious. When Kennedy says you're not getting proportionality review in Hutto, there is simply no way you're getting it for the much lesser sentence here.

To summarize: Since 5 years is the minimum sentence Congress has required, Weinstein will either impose it or get reversed (and probably removed, as he should be given his announced and dogmatic bias).

I'm still willing to bet you the steak dinner on this. Deal?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 23, 2010 9:31:51 AM

...quoting Kennedy in his Harmelin concurrence (my emphasis): "In Hutto v. Davis, 454 U.S. 370, 374, and n. 3 (1982), we recognized the possibility of proportionality review BUT HELD IT INAPPLICABLE to a 40-year prison sentence for possession with intent to distribute nine ounces of marijuana."

Which is it for Justice Kennedy, no guts or no soul?

No other explanation for this sort of subservience to legislative madness of this magnitude.

Posted by: John K | May 23, 2010 10:14:43 AM

John K --

"Which is it for Justice Kennedy, no guts or no soul?"

It's that I win and bruce loses, as you implicitly but unambiguously concede.

But that's not my main point. The main point is this: What is it with you Lefties? It's never that someone reaches a different judgment or thinks through a problem differently. Disagreement with the liberal orthodoxy can only be explained by a character defect. Likewise, losing in court when representing some hoodlum client cannot be explained by the fact that you had a lousy argument or no precedent, but only because the judge is a moral cretin.

Can you people even hear yourselves?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 23, 2010 12:54:12 PM

"Proportionality review of non-death sentences was explictily recognized in Hutto almost 30 years ago. In all the time since, not a single minimum sentence required by statute has been thrown out on Eighth Amendment grounds."

That is likely due to politics, not the law, which is why you qualify it with "almost 30 years ago."

Three-strikes laws: cruel & unusual?

Three chapters of the Magna Carta, the most famous document of British constitutional history, issued by King John at Runnymede under compulsion from the barons and the church in June, 1215. (1215) were devoted to the rule that "amercements" (similar to modern fines) must not be excessive. When prison sentences became the common method of punishing criminals, the same standard was applied, as in a statute enacted in 1275: "Imprisonment ought always to be according to the quality of the offense."

That thirteenth-century language was echoed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1910 decision, Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349 (1910). It is primarily notable as it pertains to the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, in which the prisoner had been sentenced to fifteen years at hard labor punishment for falsifying a public document. Canceling the sentence, the Court noted: "It is a precept of justice that punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to the offense."

More recently (1983), the U. S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision canceled the sentence--life without possibility of parole--given to Jerry Helm under South Dakota's habitual criminal habitual criminal for passing a worthless $1.00 check (Solem v. Helm, 463 U.S. 277 (1983). Though it was Helm's seventh conviction, none of his crimes was violent or directed against persons. Justice Lewis Powell's majority opinion found that Helm had received "the penultimate sentence for relatively minor criminal conduct," and therefore ran afoul of the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment. Such punishment as would amount to torture or barbarity, any cruel and degrading punishment not known to the Common Law, or any fine, penalty, confinement, or treatment that is so disproportionate to the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community."

So it appears the law against "activist judges" is illegal and if Rand Paul is any indication, the argument in favor of federalism is really an argument in favor of the Jim Crow laws and against the 14th A despite the KKK laws. * Though I offer no opinion on what the outcome of the case at bar in the court of public opinion will or should be, the claim that the courts do not have the power or responsibility to find some statutes "cruel and unusual" was not true. The link, with its mouse hovering footnotes, is a pretty good one but there may be some errors in the above paste because it copies those footnotes and I attempted to delete them.

* The Civil Rights Act of 1871: "Every person who under cover of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable..."

Posted by: George | May 23, 2010 1:45:33 PM

Thank you Honorable Judge Weinstein. This is a radioactive topic begging for justice. Addressing injustice is your job! Our family is living a nightmare that does not seem to have an end.

Posted by: Ann | May 23, 2010 9:29:54 PM

On the law in its current state, Otis is most assuredly correct. I am a federal prosecutor of 35 yrs service, and an appellate specialist for the last 16 yrs. I can think of no principled argument for why a 20 yr sentence for a possessor or "receiver" of child pornograpy is constitutionally objectionable under the current state of Eighth Amendment law. Having said that, the fact remains that the policy underlying 20 year sentences, or 10 year sentences for that matter (10 years is the national average for kiddie porn sentences)is simply stupid, and to the extent that Judge Weinstein has the discretion to sentence outside those averages without violating the law, and to the extent he exercises that discretion in appropriate cases, more power to him. When my district first started prosecuting these case, the average and almost universal sentence was about 27 months. For simply looking at a species of dirty pictures on one's computer, even that seemed strong. Virtually every one of our defendants had no prior criminal history, no history of sexual abuse of children, and most were in fact family people with children, responsible jobs, etc. That profile has not changed. My concern is not that such people should not be prosecuted at all. It is, rather, whether as good sentencing policy we gain enough from these present day canabalistic sentences to justify the total destruction of lives, and families, that necessarily comes with them. A person in his 30s or 40s maybe has a chance to come out of prison after a 2 or 3 year sentence and still make some kind of life for themself. After a 10 or 15 yr sentence, probably not so much. So, to the extent he is exercising his considerable discretion and not simply acting ultra vires, I applaud Judge Weinstein. We need more like him. As for me, I would much prefer working on cases of human trafficking, armed robberies, fraud schemes that actually destroy peoples' lives, and of course the monsters who actually make child pornography.

Posted by: Grotius | May 23, 2010 10:42:52 PM

Grotius --

Under Booker, Gall and Kimbrough, Weinstein can do pretty much anything he wants in sentencing and probably get away with it EXCEPT defy the five year statutory minimum. If he tries to go below that, the appellate chief in the USAO for the EDNY is sure to go after him, and is certain to win. There is simply no version of proportionality review that is going to find five years for 5000 images a Constitutional violation.

I had very little personal experience with cases of this kind. From what I know of them, you make an accurate assessment of what these defendants turn out to be. But I think you are fudging a bit with your somewhat antisceptic phrase, "a species of dirty pictures." There is a wide a variety of what shows up in the "species." Some of it is nudity, and some of it goes well beyond that to the sorts of things I am not going to describe here.

I don't doubt Weinstein's motives, but his behavior in this instance is not acceptable in a judge. A judge can disagree with the law just as anyone can, but it is inappropriate for him to openly side with one side or the other in a criminal case, even more so when he is animated simply by his personal views. Still less can he encourage the jury to enter an indignation-based acquittal when one of your colleagues has proved the elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

When I was in the USAO I tried to remember that the executive does not write the law and neither does the judiciary. It's up to Congress. You, as an AUSA, have considerable discretion, but if your Office thinks the mandatory minimums are just too high in porn cases, your proper option it to have the USA write to the AG to seek permission not to bring such cases. Unless the USA gets it (and he won't), the Office cannot just turn its back on Congress's work, and cannot allow any district judge to either.

When I was head of appeals in the EDVA, I viewed my job as requiring the district judges to abide by the law no matter what they, or I, thought of it. If the rule of law in a democratic country means anything, it means that individual personal opinons are confined to the ballot box. They do not belong either in pleadings or opinions.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 23, 2010 11:18:54 PM

For other non-lawyers out there wondering what this is about, see Erwin Chemerinsky's Is any sentence cruel and unusual punishment?

Erwin Chemerinsky is the Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics, and Political Science at the University of Southern California. He served as counsel for Leandro Andrade in the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court.

Posted by: George | May 24, 2010 2:42:30 AM

"The problem is that a five year statutory minimum sentence for "a vast collection of child pornography" (the NYT's description) gathered by an adult man is not even remotely like LWOP for a juvenile. The striking down of such a sentence as an Eighth Amendment violation is a defense lawyer fantasy, not a realistic possibility." --Bill Otis

Is it?

http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2008/09/district-court.html


Posted by: = | May 24, 2010 9:59:23 AM

= --

Yes, it is. A five year sentence is not a 30 year sentence, which was the punishment discussed in the post you mention.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 24, 2010 10:23:07 AM

Not a realistic possibility, Bill, mostly because inbreeding: prosecutors becoming judges becoming appellate justices becoming supremes.

BTW: One question, given our recent Javert exchange. What's the point of navel gazing on possible conflicts of law and justice if the conclusion is always the same: "rules are rules"?

Posted by: JohnK | May 24, 2010 10:23:10 AM

...mostly because OF inbreeding...

Posted by: JohnK | May 24, 2010 10:25:37 AM

George --

You're a bit behind the times. Chemerinsky left USC for Duke in 2004, and became founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, which began classes in the fall semester of 2009.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 24, 2010 10:37:33 AM

John K --

What's the point of having rules if the dance is always the same: How can I get around them?

P.S. How many defendants in the present day and time do you think are really like Jean ValJean? Who steal a fifty-cent loaf of bread to keep their children from starvation? Who are relentlessly honest, as ValJean was? Who have a generous and compassionate soul?

Les Miserables was a romance novel. It has lessons to teach, for sure. But it is a work of fiction. And the defendants crossing my path are absolutely nobody's version of Jean ValJean.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 24, 2010 10:56:11 AM

A young, bright, oollege kid with a bright future downloads porn - all kinds, including child. He is arrested, confesses even though others used his computer, too. He is handed a 10 year prison sentence. Family, friends and teachers were trying to help him. He had never been introuble with the law. He is raped in prison and suffers unimaginable humiliation. While serving probation police harass him and his family, his home is vandalized. Too scared to say anything. We live in terror. Police asked to move from home due to living newly enhanced living restrictions. The family has spent all savings funds to help him. Does this kid really deserve this? Is this niot an injustice? Politicians and prosecuters need to stop and evaluate the damage they do for downloading garbabge. And now, some it willingliny placed by teens.
Internet garbage surrounds all our teens. If politicians change the law for their kids in sextexting, it is unfair and unjust for the college kid who downloaded porn has has suffered a tremendous injustice. Please let's change these laws. Make a distinction. Viewing is NOT the same as rape, not the same as distributing, and manufacturing. Separate all levels. Make laws just and fair. We try teens as adults, try these sextexting kids as adults. They will get many young people in trouble with these pics, too!
If it's OK for the to sextext, then it's Ok for kids to download! The severity of the law must apply or change the possession law too.

Posted by: Ann | May 28, 2010 12:26:26 AM

Me thinks Judge Weinstein doth protest too much.

Posted by: scarlett | Aug 26, 2010 10:09:15 AM

If the laws for just viewing photos online are not kept in context and treated the same as all then get ready to fill up the prisons real fast as the internet is very young now, and growing every day./. Every photo that a young girl or boy takes and sends over the internet that means that ANYONE caught with a photo of a child under the age of 18 can be charged with possession of porn and get up to 10 years in prison for each image.

I applaud the Judge for doing whats right.

Posted by: JimP | Oct 14, 2011 1:08:06 PM

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