Monday, February 16, 2009

U.S. v. Autery (9th Cir. - Feb. 13, 2009)

With all the relevant holidays, it's been fairly slow lately in the appellate world. Nonetheless, here's something to think about as the new week begins.

You're on the district court. You've got a person before you who's guilty of possessing child pornography. He's a former law enforcement officer. He's got no real criminal history. He seems different (to you) than the other child porn criminals you've seen.

The guidelines call for around four years in prison. What sentence do you pronounce?

Judge Jones (up in Oregon) gives the defendant five years of supervised probation, with tough conditions and a warning that if he violates 'em, he'll get the maximum. Judge Milan Smith, joined by Judge Thompson, affirms, holding that this sentence is permissible. Judge Tashima dissents, holding that it's not nearly enough and hence constitutes an abuse of discretion.

Whatcha think? Child porn? Four years? No prison time? Who's right?