Stay away from child porn

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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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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To me, a failure to distinguish between people who look at these dirty pictures and people who commit contact offenses lacks the nuance and proportionality I think our law demands.

– Professor Douglas Berman, commenting on the case of Daniel Enrique Guevara Vilca, a 26-year-old who was just sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for child pornography possession.

(The reaction of Paul G. Cassell, former federal judge and victims’ rights expert, after the jump.)

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Edward De Sear

On Friday we brought you the story of Edward De Sear, a former partner at several top law firms who now faces a charge of child pornography distribution. De Sear — a graduate of Columbia and UVA Law, who is now one of the nation’s leading capital-markets lawyers — has been a partner at Allen & Overy, Bingham McCutchen, McKee Nelson, Orrick, and Milbank Tweed. As we mentioned in our prior post, the charges against De Sear came as a shock to fellow New York lawyers and to neighbors of his in Saddle River, New Jersey (my hometown — I can walk to De Sear’s place from my parents’ house).

After our story appeared, a former colleague of Ed De Sear came forward, to share some recollections. “I’m completely stunned,” said this attorney.

What could our source recall about De Sear?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More About the Former Biglaw Partner Accused of Child Porn Distribution”

Edward De Sear

I grew up in the town of Saddle River, New Jersey, a suburb about 40 minutes outside of New York City. With its wooded rolling landscape and small-town charm, Saddle River is a pleasant place to live. Large houses, a mix of stately older homes and well-executed McMansions, sit on sizable plots of land, thanks to two-acre zoning.

It was a peaceful and bucolic locale, and when I visit my parents, it seems much the same. My colleague Staci Zaretsky, our newest full-time contributor here at ATL, also grew up there — and concurs with my assessment.

But Saddle River, like the suburbs depicted in such films as American Beauty and Happiness, is not without its drama. Yesterday Edward De Sear, 64, a resident of Saddle River and a capital-markets partner at the distinguished international law firm of Allen & Overy, was 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.

UPDATE (12:00 PM): Make that a former partner of Allen & Overy. De Sear has resigned from the firm, according to a statement issued by A&O. Read it in full after the jump.

Let’s learn more about the allegations against Ed De Sear, hear from someone who knows him, meet his high-powered defense counsel — and check out his beautiful and historic home….

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Moshe Gerstein

The nauseating story of Moshe Gerstein has come to an abrupt end. Gerstein, who had been accused of possessing violent child pornography, has been found dead.

The allegations against Gerstein — who worked at Gibson Dunn and Skadden — were particularly disturbing. Gerstein was accused of stockpiling thousands of images of brutal child porn.

But he pleaded not guilty and was due to appear in court yesterday.

Instead, his obituary ran in The Republican today.

That obit is light on details, but an Above the Law source has attempted to shed some more light on the situation…

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Allegations of criminal conduct can be made against attorneys from all walks of life. An innocent-looking solo practitioner in Illinois can be accused of prostitution. A partner in a well-regarded Minnesota law firm, the incoming president of the state bar association, can be accused of molesting a child (and convicted of criminal sexual conduct, after pleading guilty).

Such seamy accusations aren’t limited to the heartland; we also see them here in New York, at elite law firms. As we mentioned last night, Moshe Gerstein — a 35-year-old corporate associate in the New York office of Gibson Dunn, who also once worked at Skadden — has been charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office with child pornography possession. And we’re not talking about garden-variety kiddie porn, but images of a particularly disturbing nature.

Let’s learn more about the charges against this young lawyer, have a look at Moshe’s mug, and hear from some tipsters who know him — including a former colleague….

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Judge Vaughn Walker: He's here, he's queer -- deal with it.

* An associate in the New York office of Gibson Dunn, Moshe Gerstein, has been hit with child pornography charges. (More coverage to come; if you know him personally and have info to share, please email us.) [New York County District Attorney's Office]

* Motion to vacate the Proposition 8 decision, on the grounds that (now retired) Judge Vaughn Walker is gay and has a partner, DENIED. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* Vivia Chen has some advice for married couples trying to juggle their careers and domestic duties: “Keep mom on the job, and get dad a fresh apron.” [The Careerist]

* Confession of an affirmative action baby: “It pains me to say this, but putting down black might help my admissions chances and putting down Asian might hurt it.” [Althouse]

* Congratulations to UC Irvine Law on winning provisional accreditation from the ABA — and condolences to the University of La Verne College of Law, which just lost it. [National Law Journal]

* How is a constitution like a computer operating system? Professor Glenn Reynolds has some interesting thoughts on the subject. [SSRN via Instapundit]

* Meanwhile, Mark Steyn wants to know: “Is Every Lesbian Blogger a Middle-Aged Man?” [National Review Online via Instapundit]

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