Child Porn

Recently, the Kentucky Supreme Court rejected a registered sex offender’s application to sit for the Kentucky bar exam. Guy Padraic Hamilton-Smith pled guilty in 2007 to a single charge involving the “possessing or viewing of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.” He received a five-year suspended sentence but was ordered to register as a sex offender for the following twenty years. Hamilton-Smith graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2011. Since graduating, he has been working in a non-lawyer position for the Lexington firm of Baldani, Rowland, and Richardson.

The Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions denied Hamilton-Smith’s application to sit for the bar exam, citing character and fitness concerns. The Office also asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to create a rule that would have kept all registered sex offenders from joining the state’s bar, but the court opted against that suggestion. Instead, the court wants the Office of Bar Admissions to consider bar applicants with sex-offender registration on a case-by-case basis.

What were the particular circumstances in Hamilton-Smith’s case that led the Kentucky Supreme Court to deny his application, despite not creating a blanket rule? Was it the right outcome?

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Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey: Sashay, shante!

[T]he role of the district judge is not to gloss over serious issues for the sake of preventing additional work for the court. Rather, in a criminal trial, the judge is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the constitutional rights of the accused are safeguarded from the whims of public opinion, prejudice, and expediency.

– Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, in an opinion reprimanding Judge David Dudley Dowd Jr. for failing to remove a juror whose comments gave “some indication that he could not decide the case fairly and impartially” (due to its unsettling subject matter, child pornography).

Earlier: Ouch! So What Does That Make Magistrate Judges?

Edward De Sear

A story that we thought couldn’t get uglier just did. Edward De Sear, a former partner at several top law firms who stood accused of child pornography distribution, pleaded guilty to four counts of distribution of child pornography and to sex trafficking of a child.

One could argue that federal sentences for mere possession or even distribution of child pornography are too high. As noted in a 2012 article in USA Today, in some cases “offenders who possess and distribute child pornography can go to prison for longer than those who actually rape or sexually abuse a child.”

But if you possess child pornography, distribute child pornography, and sexually abuse children in real life, you deserve to go away for a very long time. What kind of sentence did Edward De Sear receive?

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Thanks to spyware, an FBI dad got a gift-wrapped child porn case.

Like any dad, Joseph Auther was worried about what his son might get up to while exploring the wilds of the World Wide Web. So when his 7th grade son got a school-provided laptop from Whispering Palms School in Saipan in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, Auther decided to install a monitoring program on it. He went with a spyware program called eBlaster from SpectorSoft, a company based in Vero Beach, Florida. Unbeknownst to his son, the program captured his website visits, his keystrokes, and every email, chat, and instant message he sent and received. This was all delivered up to his dad in emails, while giving the monitored person no hint that it was doing so.

Auther has a special appreciation for the benefits of surveillance. He’s an FBI special agent. In April, he discovered he was being transferred to the FBI office in Denver. At the end of the school year, Auther let Whispering Palms principal Thomas Weindl know that his family was moving and that they would be returning the school’s laptop. Weindl, 67, was actually a friend of the Auther family; when he got married earlier that year, Auther’s wife gave a reading at the ceremony. Auther told Weindl that he would return the laptop after he removed all of his son’s files, programs, and games.

Auther first took the laptop to his FBI office and asked his colleagues how to wipe it clean. Apparently they don’t have many cyber experts in the Mariana Islands, because they were unsuccessful. So Auther had to instead take it to a computer repair shop, which cleaned out the old files and allegedly re-imaged the hard drive to return it to its original settings. Auther didn’t tell the shop about eBlaster being on the computer — perhaps feeling a little Big Parent shame — but assumed that it would be wiped along with everything else. He then returned the computer to Weindl….

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Edward De Sear

Last summer, we brought you news about Saddle River, New Jersey, the beautiful town where my colleague David Lat spent his childhood (I grew up just one town over, in Upper Saddle River). But like every charming suburb, Saddle River apparently has a dark underbelly.

In July of last year, we discovered that Edward De Sear, a 64-year-old man who was an Allen & Overy partner at the time, had been arrested at his home and charged with distributing child pornography. The charge of distributing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

De Sear was released on a $250,000 bond with electronic monitoring and never entered a plea. But it looks like the FBI was able to dig up some more information on his alleged pervy sexual preferences, because the ex-A&O partner was rearrested yesterday on eight additional kiddie porn charges.

Let’s learn more about the allegations against Ed De Sear, including details on where he supposedly viewed and trafficked child pornography….

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Last September, we wrote about Bruce Reilly, an incoming Tulane Law student who was an advocate, a writer, and a murderer. Reilly is now a second-year student at the school, but he killed a man 20 years ago. At the time, there was a huge uproar about his admission to law school, but Tulane’s administration supported Reilly’s candidacy for the degree (regardless of the fact that he may never be admitted to practice law). After all, Reilly claims that he is a “model case for rehabilitation.” Perhaps Tulane Law rightfully admitted him.

Today we bring you the story of Aaron Munter, a former law student who is now seeking readmission to complete his final semester before receiving his degree. Before leaving school, Munter excelled academically — he served as editor-in-chief of the law review, ranked second in his class, and received numerous awards for his scholarly endeavors. We should probably mention, though, that Munter didn’t leave law school by choice. In the spring of 2009, Munter was convicted of child sex crimes involving a minor, and sentenced to six months in jail, six months in work release, and five years of probation. A few years have passed, and evidently Munter thinks he’s rehabilitated and ready to go back to law school.

Should a man convicted for sex crimes with minors be readmitted to law school to complete his degree?

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* Little known fact of the day: the late comedienne Phyllis Diller apparently had a storybook romance with Paul Hastings name partner, Robert Hastings. She once said that her longtime Biglaw beau was the “love of [her] life.” [Am Law Daily]

* The Federal Trade Commission has closed its antitrust review of Facebook’s proposed Instagram purchase, clearing the way for the social networking site’s users to post grainy pictures to their hearts’ content. [Bloomberg]

* A former Vancouver lawyer serving a 15-year sentence for money laundering claims that one of the Mounties who investigated his case played a game of “hide the Canadian bacon” with Judge Ursula Ungaro. [Province]

* A judge who resigned in April has been retroactively removed from office for admitting to having sexual contact with his five-year-old niece. He presided over family court matters. Figures. [New York Law Journal]

* Which accomplishments and activities should you leave off your résumé? A) law review editor in chief; B) second in the class; C) 4.05 GPA; D) nonprofit executive director; E) child porn aficionado. [Willamette Week]

* Stabbing your lawyer is so last season. Another criminal defendant reportedly attacked his defense attorney in court, but this time chose to whack his own counsel in the head with his handcuffed hand. [Boston Globe]

Erika Perdue

From former Gibson Dunn associate Moshe Gerstein to former Allen & Overy partner Edward De Sear to former Arnold & Porter associate Joshua Gessler, whenever there are allegations of a lawyer’s involvement in a child pornography scandal, we’re here to bring you all of the disgusting details. But why leave all of the disturbing activity to the men?

Last week, Erika Perdue, the wife of a “prominent Dallas intellectual property attorney,” was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. Mrs. Perdue, a woman who’s been classified as a sultry “socialite,” has allegedly been trading kiddie porn with others — including undercover FBI agents — every day while her husband was at work, since at least 1999.

So who is the “wealthy attorney” that she’s married to? And what else do we know about these charges?

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It’s hard to step back and take an objective look at what’s happening at Penn State. One man allegedly sexually molests God knows how many children, and it’s horrible, but now the entire university is under suspicion. Under siege. Under indictment in the court of public opinion.

And still, they have to go on. Teachers have to teach, grants have to be funded, and at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, they still have to try to raise money.

But as Penn State tries to resume normal operations, the administration has to fall over itself trying to prove that they are not a university full of child rapists. They love children! When you think of Penn State, think of child abuse victims.

Wait, no, not in that way….

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