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April 14, 2014

Two notable circuit discussions of federal consequences of child porn production

I have just come across two notable circuit opinion dealing with the criminal and civil consequences child porn production.  One was handed down late last week by the Fourth Circuit, US v. Cobler, No. 13-4170 (4th Cir. April 11, 2014) (available here), and it begins this way:

In this appeal, we consider the constitutionality and the reasonableness of a 120-year sentence imposed on a defendant convicted of production, possession, and transportation of child pornography, in connection with his sexual molestation of a four-year-old boy.  The defendant argues that his lengthy prison sentence is disproportionate to his crimes, constituting cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, and that the sentence is greater than necessary to achieve legitimate sentencing goals.  Upon our review, we reject the defendant’s constitutional challenge and conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a sentence designed to protect the public and to address the seriousness of the defendant’s crimes.  Accordingly, we affirm.

The other opinion was handed down this morning by the Sixth Circuit, Prewett v. Weems, No. 12-6489 (6th Cir. April 14, 2014) (available here), and it begins this way:

Stanley Weems pleaded guilty to one count of producing child pornography.  See 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a).  His victim, J.W., filed this civil action against Weems to obtain compensation for the abuse.  See id. § 2255(a).  The district court awarded $1 million, a figure reached by multiplying the presumed-damages floor in the civil-remedies statute ($150,000) by the number of videos Weems produced (seven) and by capping the damages at the relief sought in J.W.’s complaint ($1 million).  This accounting raises an interesting question: Does the civil-remedies statute set a presumptive floor of $150,000 for each criminal violation or a presumptive floor of $150,000 for each cause of action without regard to the number of alleged violations?   As we see it, the text, structure and context of the statute, together with the structure of related civil-remedy laws, establish that the $150,000 figure creates a damages floor for a victim’s cause of action, not for each violation.  We therefore reverse the district court’s contrary conclusion.

April 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

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Comments

interesting. the first one is a joke. on one hand the crimes he was legally convicted of don't carry a life sentence. then they turn around and give him 120 years in fed prison which does not have parole. Sounds like a fucking life sentence to me. I admit I don't have a problem with him getting life. But not for those charges. Now if they had added and convicted of the actual sexual attacks. SURE go for it.

the 2nd is very good.

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 14, 2014 6:07:49 PM

"To make matters worse, Cobler was aware that his sexual contact with the child could have caused the child to contract Cobler’s serious communicable disease. Far from being 'one of the most passive felonies a person could commit,' Solem, 463 U.S. at 296, Cobler’s heinous acts exploited, injured, and inflicted great harm on a most vulnerable victim."

Posted by: AUSA12 | Apr 15, 2014 11:32:06 AM

that's very true AUSA12. of course that means the AUSA on the case fucked that up as well. Where was the charge for using a deadly weapon or maybe like another case. a weapon of mass destruction?

sorry like I said you don't get to chicken out and convict on the low hanging charges and then sentence as if convicted of the capital crime. Sorry to say but that makes the state a bigger criminal than he is. Since last time I looked he took no oath to uphold the law. THEY did.

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 15, 2014 3:49:51 PM

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