Child pornography

I asked my fiancée if she wanted to see naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence. “Sure.” So I showed her. “She looks good.” Then she scratched her nose and went back to planning our wedding. “What about Kate Upton?” “Sure.” So I showed her. “She’s got huge boobs.” Her nose still itched. The seating chart was still totally fudged up. Pretty uneventful Sunday night as those go.

Last weekend, the Internet exploded in a terrific tumescence over naked pictures of women. You probably heard. But now, after the hot action, and while the whole world smokes a post-coital cigarette, we are left to sort through the regret. Chief among this shame is news that one of the stars of the tawdry affair may have been underage when the pictures were taken. Mc-kay-la: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Mc. Kay. La.

ESPN, your trusted source for manufactured controversy, chose to report on this actual controversy in the most opaque manner possible.

Here’s how…

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I am on record as an optimist when it comes to the internet. The free flow of information on the web, including but not limited to websites like Above the Law, helps people make better decisions about their lives and careers (and also entertains, a value that shouldn’t be ignored).

At the same time, as we’ve discussed before, the web has its dark side….

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Is the internet good or evil? Well, neither — the internet, just like the information you find on it, is really what you make of it. Some people use information for good purposes, and some use it for bad.

Here at Above the Law, we tend to see the internet as a force for good. We use our bandwidth on the web to entertain and to educate. Our view is that, in general, more information is good. With more information, people can make better choices about their lives and careers. Should I go to law school? If so, which law school? And what about law firms? Which firms are the best places to work?

But you can use the internet for anything, really. For some folks, to quote the popular song from the musical Avenue Q, The Internet Is For Porn — and so much more, from the shady to the downright illegal….

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Got a pedigree problem?

* The Supreme Court isn’t sure how to address restitution in this child pornography case, but the justices agreed that they didn’t like the “50 percent fudge factor” offered by a government attorney. [New York Times]

* No, stupid, you can’t strike a juror just because he’s gay. By expanding juror protections to sexual orientation, the Ninth Circuit recently added a new notch on the gay rights bedpost. Progress! [Los Angeles Times]

* The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board says the NSA’s domestic surveillance program is illegal and should be stopped. Sorry, Edward Snowden beat you to the punch on that one. [New York Times]

* While Blank Rome was busy denying a possible merger with Nixon Peabody, it picked up 21 attorneys from two small firms in California to open a San Francisco office. Sneaky. [Philadelphia Business Journal]

* Dennis T. O’Riordan, the ex-Paul Hastings partner who faked his credentials, was disbarred — not in New York, where he claimed he was admitted, but across the pond in the United Kingdom. [Am Law Daily]

* The ABA Journal wants to know if your law firm considers law school pedigree during its hiring process. Please consider the law schools your firm shuts out from OCI, and respond accordingly. [ABA Journal]

* Word on the street is UALR School of Law is trying to push an affirmative action program that’s “likely unconstitutional.” It might also be insulting to prospective minority students, so there’s that. [Daily Caller]

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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You don’t often see federal courts striking down conditions of supervised release as violations of substantive due process. But you don’t often see the federal government wanting to hook up a device to a man’s penis, make the man watch pornography, and see what happens. It sounds a bit… 1984 (affiliate link).

I couldn’t help noticing this opinion, given its unusual nature and its focus on the peen. I’m sure you’re all dying to learn more about the procedure known as “penile plethysmography.” (The good news: it’s not as bad as a penile embolism or penile degloving.)

You know you want to see what those Second Circuit judges are hiding underneath their robes. Let’s dig a little deeper (into the opinion), shall we?

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Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.

It wasn’t until law school that I realized adult life was one long series of birthday dinners. There was one every week it seemed. And at one birthday dinner in particular, I gave a speech that would haunt me for the rest of my law school career. Like an STD.

It was somebody’s birthday and we were eating Mexican food. And I was stationed at one end of the extra-long tables near a few friends and acquaintances. Several beers into the meal, I loudly steered the conversation towards a discussion of herpes. I’m not really sure why I did this. I think I had read something on the intertubes that day. At any rate, I told my end of the table that herpes was way more commonplace than they thought, and that the effect of the disease was far less dire than they thought. That, sure, some cases were worse than others, but that the puritanical myth-makers in our culture had convinced us that it was worse than death. Which it wasn’t. I was in high dudgeon, my friends. The floor was mine, and I was taking no prisoners in my attack on what I had deemed a cultural sex libel. “I’m telling you, ladies and germs. Herpes is NOT THAT BIG A DEAL!”

Not a single girl present at that dinner ever came close to having sex with me. On a related note, Kris Humphries was sued for allegedly giving a girl the herp.

Sports? Let’s talk it….

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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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