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Federal Judge Advocates Jury Nullification After Being Shocked by Overzealous Child Pornography Prosecution

It just makes sense to let jurors know about their already established power to exercise discretion over bad laws and ill-considered prosecutions.

"This is a shocking case. This is a case that calls for jury nullification."

Many have had similar reactions when confronting cases involving authorities running roughshod over people with bad laws, punitive sentences, and ill-considered prosecutions. But this time, the person invoking jury nullification was a federal judge—District Judge Stefan R. Underhill of the District of Connecticut—and he spoke in court about a case over which he presided.

The prosecution that shocked Underhill involves Yehudi Manzano, a 30-something man charged with producing and transporting child pornography after saving, and then deleting, a video of his teenage sex partner to and from his own phone and its associated Google cloud account. "The only people who ever saw it were the guy who made it, the girl who was in it, and the federal agents," Norman Pattis, Manzano's attorney, told me.

But that, prosecutors say in the indictment, was enough for the federal government to proceed with charges under the assumption that Manzano acted "knowing and having reason to know that: such visual depiction would be transported and transmitted using any means and facility of interstate and foreign commerce." And that's important, because the mandatory minimum sentence under federal law for recording video of sex with an underage partner is 15 years.

That draconian sentence—independent of what was in store in the entirely separate state trial for sex with a minor—was too much for Judge Underhill. "I am absolutely stunned that this case, with a 15-year mandatory minimum, has been brought by the government," he said in court. "I am going to be allowed no discretion at sentencing to consider the seriousness of this conduct, and it is extremely unfortunate that the power of the government has been used in this way, to what end I'm not sure."

Judge Underhill acknowledged that he's not allowed to encourage jury nullification, but "if evidence comes in about the length of the sentence, or if Mr. Pattis chooses to argue, I do not feel I can preclude that. I don't feel I'm required to preclude that. And I think justice requires that I permit that."

The judge's appeal to jury nullification as a remedy for runaway prosecution didn't come out of the blue. Defense counsel and prosecutors had already sparred over the case's rather tenuous connection to interstate commerce, by which the federal government claimed jurisdiction.

"Apparently, the mere fact that the recording equipment was manufactured outside Connecticut is sufficient to meet the interstate commerce requirement of the statute," Judge Underhill noted in surprise. They also tussled over the extent to which jurors should be informed of the long years in prison that awaited Manzano upon conviction.

"Juries exist for a reason," Pattis argued in court. "They stand between the government and the accused, and they provide the accused with an opportunity to hold the government to its burden of proof. And in certain trials in our history, juries have done more than that. They've said the law is wrong, and we, the people, say it's wrong."

In response to that, Neeraj N. Patel bluntly told the court on behalf of the U.S. Attorney's office, "you should take steps to prevent jury nullification and not inform the jury of the sentencing consequences."

Normally, that's where the matter would have remained. Judges don't generally want jurors told they can pull the plug on a prosecution because they don't like the law or the possible sentence. They're generally not permitted to inform juries about nullification, and they're discouraged from informing juries about the consequences in store for convicted defendants.

However, that doesn't mean judges must ban all discussion of jury nullification and sentencing from trials. And occasionally you run across one who is horrified by what prosecutors have in mind. That's why Pattis, who passionately believes in the right to nullification, keeps arguing for a principle that generally gets shot down in court. And last week, he found a judge sympathetic with his arguments.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut declined to comment on this case, but did provide me with a copy of the emergency motion it filed seeking a stay in the trial. Prosecutors want time to get a higher court to prevent Judge Underhill from allowing Manzano's defense counsel to inform jurors of the potential sentence and argue for jury nullification.

"To the extent the Court's rulings allow Mr. Manzano to make argument and elicit evidence that invites jury nullification, the Government seeks mandamus to have the Court preclude such argument and evidence," prosecutors warn. "Finally, the Government may seek mandamus to have the Court instruct the jurors that they have a duty to convict if it finds the Government has proven Mr. Manzano's guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, regardless of the sentencing consequences," they add.

At the subsequent hearing, Judge Underhill denied that he'd issued any order that would justify mandamus in the case, and emphasized that he intended to instruct jurors to disregard their own feelings about the law or the sentence. But he also added, "if Mr. Pattis is not allowed to argue jury nullification, in my view there is a risk of a Sixth Amendment violation here." His intent, it seems, is to allow the jury to navigate their own way between his instructions and any twinges of conscience drawn out by information presented to them by Manzano's attorney. Nevertheless, he granted the government's motion for a stay and dismissed the jury.

Whether the jurors who ultimately decide Manzano's fate in this case are fully informed about the consequences of their decision or their power in the court is up in the air. We know that at least one federal judge wants them to have that knowledge—and for good reason, I'd argue.

"We have a country coming apart at the seams and we're worried about the legitimacy of institutions. Under the circumstances, why wouldn't you empower juries?" Pattis said to me during our discussion of the case.

Why wouldn't you, indeed. At a moment when Americans harbor near-historic levels of distrust in government, it just makes good sense to let jurors know about their already established power to exercise discretion over bad laws and ill-considered prosecutions.

Photo Credit: modified from Ingram Publishing/Newscom

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  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Could not have predicted this. The prosecutor, sure, they all want wins more than justice, and letter-of-the-law technicalities are much easier than having to find real criminals.

    I hope the defense brings up jury nullification and appeals the inevitable trouble.

  • Quixote||

    Come now, the law is the law and the defendant can always appeal his conviction if he feels that his trial was somehow unfair. No one suggested, for example, that lawyers should be allowed to plead jury nullification in America's leading criminal "satire" case. In fact, in that case, it was even made clear to the perpetrator that "neither truth nor good faith" was a "defense," and no one was allowed to suggest to the jury that they should nonetheless, in view of the "parody" claim and allegations of plagiarism involved, look into the "truth" of any of the matters involved. Most of the convictions were unfortunately thrown out after around nine years of appellate litigation, but the jury did their duty, just like they should in this case. See the documentation at:

    https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • John C||

    A 30 year old is making a video of a 15 year old and you think this is okay? That sounds like the definition of child porn to me. Zero sympathies given. I don't really care what he's doing with it. Am I missing something here?

  • SQRLSY One||

    What you are missing is proportionate justice. "Zero sympathies given." OK, then. Would you be OK with a sentence for this horrid offender, of being being immersed in scalding water for 10 minutes every 6 hours for the rest of his life?

    He made child porn and then changed his mind, and deleted it before harming anyone, except for federal snoops who love to snoop. You fashioned some burning coals and approached a puppy, with intent to burn the fur and skin of the puppy, but at the last moment, you changed your mind and quenched the coals, harming no one. Should you be prosecuted for animal abuse?

  • Longtobefree||

    My reading of the article is that the video was for personal use, not distribution. Like a birthday party snapshot. Yet the feds want to say that since the camera was from out of state, it is a federal beef?
    Sound like the argument that stuff grown and sold and eaten in a single state is interstate commerce because some other thing from out of state was NOT bought instead.

    Welcome to the revolution.

  • Robert||

    That's the thing, it's so strained to consider this as affecting commerce among the several states or w the Indian tribes. How much does the photographic equipment biz depend on the traffic in child porn? In what sense does banning use of the equipment to make kid porn regulate the commerce in cameras? What purpose would Congress have in so infinitesimally reducing the camera biz?

  • Tionico||

    Yup. Filburn is one of the rottenest and most insanely wrong "decisions" ever rendered by those nine lawmakers strutting their stuff in their black nighties. This ONE CASE has brought in untold waste, expense, government control over private means of production (hey, isnt't that the definition of fascsm?)

    Funny how that iCC clause is never brought to bear when California decides, on their own say-so, that cars made in Illinois or Michigan or Arkansas MUST be made to certain standards in various categories, else they mayn't be brought into California, even by a private owner wanting to drive it within their magic lines for his own use, not even commerce. Of California insisting that EGGS brought into their PRESHUSS state can ONLY be from chickens housed in certain approved ways..... or that firearms made in other states cannot enter that state in commerce unless their high and mighty dweebs have "inspected and tested" that exact model and find it meets their standards.... if a different colour of the same thing comes out it has to also be inspected and approved. That same handgun can be imported into any other state in the union, almost, no issue.

    Seems the Feds need to adopt some consistency if they're going to play the ICC game.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    The article never says how old the girl was. 15 years is the mandatory minimum sentence, not the girl's age. Also, in a lot of jurisdictions the age of consent is 16 or in some cases 15, yet the federal child pornography statute is set at 18.

    So in some cases, you can have sex with, say, a 17 year old*, but if you video it and - according to the federal prosecutor's argument here - you never share the video with anyone, you've violated the federal child pornography ban and are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. And not only that, they're also arguing that the jury isn't allowed to be informed of the length of the mandatory minimum or to be informed of their right to judge not only the facts of the case but the law itself as well.

    * That doesn't appear to be the exact case here, the article does mention that he's facing state charges for sex with an underage partner, so obviously she was under the state's age of consent. But that puts it squarely in the state's jurisdiction. And if he's found guilty, then that's fine, justice is served and a 30 year old perv is behind bars. The issue here is whether or not the federal prosecution is just.

  • Ben of Houston||

    A 30 year old taking advantage of a 15 year old is scum. However, the fact that he took a picture of her is getting far longer jailtime than the actual act. That's madness.

    In fact, I'm glad it's coming up in this case, rather than the more extreme ones where selfies are getting prosecuted. We have to really look into child porn laws and the purpose behind them. They have huge minimum sentences in federal prison, even in cases where the act itself was legal.

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    Would you mind taking the time to re-read the comment you were replying to?

  • Kidwell1||

    I keep hearing the 30 year old and 15 year old....yet there are scores of 20 and 30 plus year old female teachers who have done the same act and are doing 2 years, probation, 18 months. My understanding of this case is the interstate part of it was him backing the file up on a cloud storage facility which generally is not in Connecticut. IE, he may not have even been aware he was creating a copy, thus breaking that law. Scores of Apple customers have no idea how their phone works until its dropped in the can.

  • Jessi||

    That's not the issue, that's a separate court case.

  • Tionico||

    Not OK, but also not grounds for fifteen years in the Crowbar Hotel on the taxpayer's dime. Squeeze me, hundred dollar bill. Not that long ago, thirtee, fourteen, fifteen year old young ladies would be married and bearing children by then, holding down a farm or business in their "spare tiime" and no one thought anything unusual was going on. I actually knew one woman who, at 14, was traded off by her Father to a neighbour in his fifties for a tractor. She had nine children, raised them all well along with her husband until he died, ran the farm, one of her sons now runs it but she lives there. She had no regrets. So the REAL question is what has happened to society that females in their mid teens are so restricted a marriage such as I described above would put someone in jail?
    But no, they both seem to think sex is a form of free entertainment with no consequences.

  • TMLutas||

    Mostly you're missing that it's being tried in the wrong courtroom under the wrong statute and that some other case is being delayed because the feds wanted to rack up numbers in a crime that's not properly their responsibility to prosecute.

    If the facts are as described, I'm all for the state trial to go forward and for justice to be served there. You don't get to tie up federal resources while trials are already taking too long because you feel like it. That's not the way this works.

  • Kidwell1||

    Correct. The guy had no idea his phone was backing the single video up out of state. He deleted it, but the copy his software made still existed. This should be state only, ridiculous the dopey feds sticking their noses into this.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Yes. As far as I can tell, having reread the article 3 times, is that the reference to "15 years" is to the mandatory minimum sentence that might be imposed, not the age of the teenage girl.

  • flyfishnevada||

    The attitude that criminals get zero sympathy is a dangerously slippery slope. The guy might be a scumbag but he might not be. The government accused him a of a crime. That's all. What about due process? What about fairness and justice. Is it you opinion that government never gets it wrong and always treats defendants fairly and justly? Do you think they give a crap about him or you or me? The feds, in this case, shouldn't even be involved much less putting this guy through the ringer.

  • Bubba Jones||

    He is being tried separately for having sex with a minor.

  • Donald Trump||

    15 year old pussy? Don't worry I've seen it all before. No men anywhere and I get to see them naked. I'm inspecting their young and completely naked bodies and it's all ok because I have so much power over them.

  • Murray Rothtard||

    oh jesus.

    this is gonna be long fucking day

  • Naaman Brown||

    The only menton of 15 years I have found is the 15 year mandatory minimum sentence.

    As far as I can tell, the underage girlfriend could have been one day short of legal for consensual sex.

    And I suspect that is #NotTheRealDonaldTrump.

  • PersephoneK||

    That's how I read it too. The article does not specific the age of the teenager involved (which it should).

  • Cynical Asshole||

    The only menton of 15 years I have found is the 15 year mandatory minimum sentence.

    Correct. But REEDING IZ 4 FAGGITZ 'N' CUCKZ. And besides, The Donald doesn't have time for that shit anyway.

  • Michael Cook||

    As a retired corrections officer, may I say that the federal government must have in mind building a whole lot of new prisons and vastly increasing the job security of those in my profession if they are going to be routinely handing down 15 years for stuff like this. I mean, I can't even count the murderers I have known who were back on the streets in less than 8 or 9 years hard time.

  • SQRLSY One||

    How many prisoners did you meet who were doing hard time for blowing on a cheap plastic flute w/o a prescription? What was their average sentence?

    Inquiring minds want to KNOW!!!

    (To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ ) … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Why does Reason always pick the criminal cases that are not outrageous abuses of government but the defendant is likely guilty based on the evidence?

    There are thousands of criminal cases out there where there are outrageous abuses by government, abuses of Due Process by prosecutors and judges and police, and the defendant is innocent.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Additionally, I do not need a defendant to be innocent to standby and protect a defendant's constitutional rights.

  • Jordan||

    In what world is this not an outrageous abuse of government?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The prosecution that shocked Underhill involves Yehudi Manzano, a 30-something man charged with producing and transporting child pornography after saving, and then deleting, a video of his teenage sex partner to and from his own phone and its associated Google cloud account. "The only people who ever saw it were the guy who made it, the girl who was in it, and the federal agents," Norman Pattis, Manzano's attorney, told me.

    Its a crime to produce child pornography. That is what he did.

    Nobody is advocating making these child porn laws unconstitutional BTW. Either filming a minor having sex is illegal or its not. Its currently illegal.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    Super Virtuous of Judge Underhill to defend Yehudi. I hope Underhill's fellow professors at Yale law stand en mass to applaud his virtue. Hip Hip Hurrah. Wasn't he the brave judge who ruled to expand Title 9 scholarship requirements, increasing opportunities for strong independent women? Obviously, Clinton picked a good, good man. One of the few good ones.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The judge in this case could have done numerous things to make sure this case never was prosecuted.

    Instead he passed off the responsibility for justice onto a jury.

  • MJBinAL||

    The Child porn portion of this is going to be prosecuted under state law. The issue is the the STRETCHING to allow the Federal Prosecutor to get HIS hand in on the deal.

    He is likely (based on facts) going to jail for sex with a minor, and in receiving the video, contributing to the delinquency of a minor. All of that AT THE STATE LEVEL is not at issue here.

    If you are a libertarian of any form, you would surely agree that this is better handled at the state level.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    As a Libertarian, I am against all these stupid porn laws.

    Going after kids having sex is stupid.
    Going after people looking at pictures is stupid.
    Going after kids sexting each other is stupid.

    Set an Age of Consent and have it apply to all actions (Contracts, drinking, sex, marriage, military service..)

    Adults having sex with kids should be illegal.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Going after kids having sex is stupid.
    Set an Age of Consent and have it apply to all actions

    Those statements are contradictory. The law needs to take notice of the difference in ages as well as age to avoid outlawing sex between young peers.

    Also, having a fixed "age of majority" that applies to contracts, drinking, sex, marriage, military service, and all such maturity-related privileges makes no sense. There's no reason to assume that the best, most appropriate age for allowing all such things is the same.

  • Henry||

    "There's no reason to assume that the best, most appropriate age for allowing all such things is the same."

    Ideally, there is also no reason to assume it's the same FOR EVERYBODY.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Yes, there is a good reason to pretend "it's the same FOR EVERYBODY", and that is the practical impossibility of objectively determining every individual's fitness for a certain responsibility before granting them adult privileges. If we're going to restrict certain responsibilities to those of a certain maturity level, the best we can do in the real world is set an age at which people are generally able to handle it. Yes, that can be argued to be unfair to precocious young people with abilities beyond their years, but it's the best we can do. I don't think we really want a world in which people are prohibited from having sex until they can pass the exam at the Sex Bureau.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If kids are under the Age of Consent than they should be held to the same legal standard as adults. In other words, kinds having voluntary sex with other kids would not be a crime.

  • Vernon Depner||

    But then you run into absurd situations where a young person who is the Age of Consent plus one day having sex with a partner who is the Age of Consent minus one day is committing a crime, even though nothing resembling sex between a child and an adult is taking place. No, the age difference needs to be recognized by the law, not just the age of the younger partner.

  • ThomasD||

    "Those statements are contradictory."

    Not if 'kids having sex' refers to children having sex with other children (the 'kids' being plural.)

    Which, given the "adults having sex with kids should be illegal" statement seems the most likely meaning.

  • Vernon Depner||

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    > Nobody is advocating making these child porn laws unconstitutional

    Au contraire! I certainly am. Free speech is free speech. On ANY. Topic. What. So. Fucking. Ever.

    You can make an invasion of privacy argument for a five year old's lack of capacity to consent, but in the instant case, absolutely not.

    Loveconstitution needs to learn the difference between illegal and unlawful.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    No, he was prosecuted under FEDERAL law for transporting child pornography across state laws (thus claiming commerce clause jurisdiction) because the video he made was on his cell phone. To the feds it doesn't matter if he made it or not.

    Yours for mindfulness in reading.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Why is this news?

    Federal overreach.

    Mandatory minimums.

    Jury Nullification.

    This story has very simple, easy to understand examples of each of these, with the man bites dog twist of a sympathetic judge.

    Journalism 101.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Obvious miscarriages of justice are obvious.

    It's the difficult cases that require some thought and are the more interesting ones.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This guy produced child porn and that is illegal.

    Get back to me when you advocate making all child porn laws unconstitutional.

    You people want exceptions made but refuse to advocate for repealing entire batches of unconstitutional laws.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Are you being deliberately obtuse?

    This controversy is only partly related to the issue of child pornography.

    Even if you think this guy is a threat to society, why should it be a federal case? The pretext for making it a federal crime, as opposed to a state crime, is very thin.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You're always square.

    Its a federal case because various federal laws cover crossing states lines as federal jurisdiction. Just because Tucille does not write in depth articles is not an excuse for you to be rectangular.

    Activities on the internet or via cell phone involve crossing state lines.

    I will let you figure out how this is a federal case on your own.

  • MJBinAL||

    I usually find you reasonable, but not on this.

    IF it was sent across the internet, or sent out via a text, THEN interstate commerce might apply. However, it came in to his cell phone from inside the state, and he deleted it. Hence he did NOT transmit it ANYWHERE, let alone across state lines.

    The Feds are taking the position that because the phone was made out of state, anything stored on it is interstate commerce. So are you ok with that logic? I bet your car was made out of state, and your guns, and your gun save, and your refrigerator, and nearly everything else you own. So you are ok with EVERYTHING being federal "because Interstate Commerce"?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    He did something with his Google Cloud account. Unless he lives next door to the cloud server, his electronic signals crossed state lines.

    I dont think ANYTHING should be interstate commerce. If its actually INTERSTATE commerce than its interstate commerce. The Constitution gives the federal government discretion to regulate that.

    The Founders decides that state disputes were becoming a problem if multiple state jurisdictions were involved, so the states gave up some power to have the federal government regulate interstate commerce.

    As I said, I think this guys is getting the shaft as most of the current criminal charges should be unconstitutional. But they aren't.

  • Tionico||

    You fail to comprehend the REASON behind that so-called ICC clause. First, start with the accepted meaning back in that time of the word "regulate". The same error is made in the context of militia. Since the word "regulate" is connected to both ICC and militia, some stupid people seem to think the founders meant FedGov have the authority to make all manner of niggly rules and laws and limits and taxes. NO. What "regulate" means is to make regular, that is, to function effectively. Just above that part of Art 1 Sec 8 we find language prohibiting any tariffs or taxes imposed between states, or on goods moving between states, also that nothing can be prohibited in one state if the folks in another can have it unregulated. SCOTUS< in Filburn, about 1934, established the utterly bogus principle that anything that can, has, does, did, might, or possibly could, or did not move between any two states can thus be governed and ruled to death, taxed, controlled, etc, by FedGov.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Actually no. The Commerce clause was intended to allow the feds to regulate ... commerce. If the Feds wanted to set standards for the transmission of porn between cell phones and cloud servers, that would be one thing.

    The Commerce Clause was not intended to be a thin excuse for Federal intrusion into local matters. That should be a pretty easy thing for libertarians to agree upon.

  • Seamus||

    Give me a fucking break. Sure, Congress *can* pass laws criminalizing every arguably bad action that has anything to do with interstate commerce--which, even after Lopez and the Violence Against Women Act case still means damn near everything--but that doesn't mean it should, or that we should shrug our shoulders when prosecutors seek to impose draconian penalties under those laws.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If you are talking to me, I agree that there are too many draconian laws on the books. Removing all those laws is the solutions not making more rules for exceptions based on arbitrary prosecutorial discretion.

    So far, nobody has convinced me that this is NOT a federal case of crossing states lines.

  • Bubba Jones||

    You have been spending too much time reading Volokh.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    This controversy is only partly related to the issue of child pornography.

    The prosecutor is arguing that the jury shouldn't be informed of the mandatory minimum sentence, or their right to judge the fitness of the law as it pertains to the facts in this case. They absolutely should be, and not just in this case either. Prosecutors do this kind of shit all the time because the last thing they want is a fully informed jury. Also, their argument that because the phone he used to record the video was made out of state and that puts in the fed's jurisdiction because "interstate commerce" is ridiculous too. Based on that argument, any crime that involves the use of a cell phone can become a federal case because pretty much all cell phones are made in China or elsewhere.

    Lastly, the guy's facing state charges for sex with a minor anyway, and if found guilty (which he probably will be considering he was kind enough to record himself in the act), then justice will be served. There's no need to pile on federal charges in this case or to preclude the jury from knowing that there will be a 15 year mandatory minimum despite the fact that he never shared the video with anyone. But he's a perv, so fuck him. I mean, it's not like the feds will use a similar interstate commerce argument or railroad other, more sympathetic defendants into long mandatory minimum sentences in future cases, right?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    " I mean, it's not like the feds will use a similar interstate commerce argument or railroad other, more sympathetic defendants into long mandatory minimum sentences in future cases, right?"

    Actually, the basic argument for federal jurisdiction here is not new.

    The argument that the use of tools that once upon a time traveled in interstate commerce is enough for federal criminal jurisdiction to attach under the commerce clause has been the standing policy of the DOJ going back to at least the Clinton Administration.

    I agree with the judge in this case, the argument for federal jurisdiction is seriously warped and the courts should reject it, but it's not new.

  • Bubba Jones||

    He drove on an interstate highway.

    His marijuana grow affects the price of pot in Colorado.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    As I point above, he is not being prosecuted in federal court for producing child pornography. He is being prosecuted because he had a video on his cell phone of him having sex with his teenage girl friend that he "transported across state lines" thus invoking commerce clause jurisdiction.

    Get back to me when you learn to read articles more carefully.

  • Jerryskids||

    You wouldn't understand because you love the Constitution rather than the Declaration of Independence. There's a reason we celebrate Independence Day as the anniversary of the founding of this nation rather than celebrating Constitution Day as the anniversary of the founding of our government. We became a free and independent nation on the day *we* said we were free and independent, we didn't need no fucking permission slip from the government to grant us our freedom. The Declaration is a sacred document acknowledging liberty as the essence of humanity, the Constitution is a set of shackles we put on government lest they deny that proposition.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Constitution is a set of plastic handcuffs with fuzzy insides.

    We Americans have let bureaucrats and politicians add zips ties, chains, straight jackets, and cages.

    I for one am glad to be rolling back to fuzzy plastic handcuffs.

  • Juice||

    The Constitution is a set of plastic handcuffs with fuzzy insides.

    And you love it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I love the USA and the restrictions and protected rights that the US Constitution provides.

    I have traveled the World and based no my experiences, the USA is the best country in the World. Even with our flaws.

    Most other nations have so many rules and restrictions that some freedom is something politicians give you if you're lucky.

  • Henry||

    But what do you intend to do about the ball gags and anal probes? (Yes, the analogy is apt.)

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Vote against them this election 2018.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Them" being Democrats :)

  • perlchpr||

    I suspect they considered this newsworthy because judges usually like to imprison anyone who even mentions jury nullification.

  • Kidwell1||

    Reason finds and showcases abuses of authority. in this case it's law, which means it could be systemic. Radley Balko used to write for Reason and has a whole website dedicated to this systemic abuse.

  • prolefeed||

    OT, but relevant to what is going on today:

    Democracy: the mob chooses between the functional equivalent of the Genovese family or the Gambino family ruling them.

    Constitutional Republic: the mob chooses between the functional equivalent of the Genovese family or the Gambino family ruling them, but with representation from people chosen by the mob, with the representatives who win the elections publicly anointed as made men or women of the Genovese family or the Gambino family, so long as they swear to follow rules which they have no intention of following. Eventually becomes Democracy.

    Monarchy: Either the Genovese family or the Gambino family rules via hereditary succession, with inbreeding amongst the rulers.

    Socialism: Either the Genovese family or the Gambino family rules, but with an insane economic model that incentives people not to work, plus a police state to futilely try to stave off the inevitable collapse.

    Fascism: Socialism with the pretense that people own stuff, even though effective control is with either the Genovese family or the Gambino family.

    Communism: Socialism, good and hard.

    National Socialism: the worst aspects of both socialism and fascism, plus racism. And concentration camps.

  • Seamus||

    National Socialism: the worst aspects of both socialism and fascism, plus racism. And concentration camps.

    They have those under communism too.

  • Naaman Brown||

    Is this offense worth 15 years of taxpayers' money?
    Google return: ... the average cost of incarceration for Federal inmates in Fiscal Year 2014 was $30,619.85 ($83.89 per day).
    Is this piddling diddling "crime" even worth the expense of a trial?

    It is interesting reading the PDF that juries do have the power to nullify but no one wants to tell them. (I heard about jury nullification in junior high school civics class, the John Peter Zenger case I think.)

    Don't let the jury know what the mandatory minimum is. If the mandatory minimum for spitting on the sidewalk was having your lips sewn shut, most juries would never convict.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Y'll know any retired or otherwise former military officers who are frustrated in the following ways:

    In the military, among my friends, we had people trusted with nuclear weapons... Handling, flying, or launching them. Commanding hundreds or thousands of armed men or women, and ginormous budgets. We got pretty little ribbons to put on our chests, for getting shot at, or being willing to get shot at. They got us take oaths to "defend the Constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic", to make us feel GOOD about this Constitution & what we were doing & stuff & stuff!!!

    Today, we get called up for jury duty, and we aren't even trusted to have a copy of the Constitution in the deliberation room! Nor are we allowed to know how many bribes and reduced sentences were offered to the witnesses, what the potential sentence is, or about this long, honored history of jury nullification! (Or how prosecutors don't give a shit about "justice"; they just want to "win", and by doing so, get fame, power, and glory).

    Go figure, but methinks something is WAAAAY out of whack here...

  • Cynical Asshole||

    In the first case, you're fighting for God and country the government, in the second, you're just deciding the fate of some poor schmuck who ran afoul of one of the government's many, often times arbitrary, rules and prohibitions, so fuck 'em.

  • SQRLSY One||

    I hate to sound way cynical but... Even as a military vet, I can NOT honestly say that I would recommend to a young person to go and enlist or become an officer, today. We've got too many wars that I cannot support, and we have a Government Almighty in general, that I support less and less. We are becoming the Evil Empire in way too many ways!

  • Longtobefree||

    "I am going to be allowed no discretion at sentencing to consider the seriousness of this conduct, and it is extremely unfortunate that the power of the government has been used in this way, to what end I'm not sure."

    Well, if he has the courage of his convictions, he will ignore the sentencing guidelines, give an appropriate sentence, and file an amicus brief on the appeal.

    (fun fact for conspiracy theorists: whoever programmed the spell checker does not know about "amicus", and suggests "Islamic")

  • Qsl||

    Well, if he has the courage of his convictions, he will ignore the sentencing guidelines, give an appropriate sentence, and file an amicus brief on the appeal.

    Isn't this the activist judge and legislating from the bench conservatives always complain of?

    I mean where are the hordes of voters DEMANDING sentences be included as a part of jury instructions? Where are the voters demanding congress act to curb the reach of the commerce clause?

    Even now, sentencing reform only has a milquetoast support among the electorate, and that's after a decade or more of stories about the numbers of the US prison population.

    Instead people want even more draconian laws, victim impact statements, and complete annulment of the 4th if it will "save lives".

    If the only thing standing between that is a judge with much to lose, you are already fucked.

    Underhill isn't even the hero the people deserve.

  • Jerryskids||

    "Juries exist for a reason," Pattis argued in court. "They stand between the government and the accused, and they provide the accused with an opportunity to hold the government to its burden of proof. And in certain trials in our history, juries have done more than that. They've said the law is wrong, and we, the people, say it's wrong."

    I've always had the opinion that juries aren't there as a neutral party ensuring some sort of "reasonable man" standard of justice, but that juries are there as a stand-in for "We The People". "We The People" are the sovereign here and our word is the law. The question before the jury isn't simply a matter of whether or not the accused has broken the law as it what written by the representatives of We The People but whether or not this is what we meant when we authorized this law.

  • Jerryskids||

    I'm thinking of the case a few years back where the old man in Florida killed his wife and the jury convicted him on the killing but afterward some members of the jury were weeping over the conviction. The old man didn't murder his wife, his wife was in the final stages of Alzheimer's (IIRC) and the old man felt she deserved the compassion and the consideration of being treated at least as well as you would treat an old dog by ending its suffering in a humane manner. And so he kissed his wife goodbye and held a pillow over her face until she went peacefully and permanently to sleep.

    And for this, the jury whined and cried about how "we didn't want to do it, but the law's the law". No, you spineless sheep, you lacked the single shred of humanity necessary to stand up and say "This is wrong and this is not what We The People intended the law to mean." You are the sovereign here, you are the law, you're a free human being endowed by your Creator with free will, you can't slough off taking responsibility for your actions.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Juries are an excellent opportunity to check government power and hold your ground on Not Guilty verdict.

    Sheeple dont do that and then virtue signal by weeping that they were wrong, blah blah blah.

  • Vastlyamused||

    "And for this, the jury whined and cried about how "we didn't want to do it, but the law's the law". No, you spineless sheep, you lacked the single shred of humanity necessary to stand up and say "This is wrong and this is not what We The People intended the law to mean." You are the sovereign here, you are the law, you're a free human being endowed by your Creator with free will, you can't slough off taking responsibility for your actions."

    I'm sure all those juries that freed guilty murderers back in the Good Ole Days (gotta keep Those People in line!) believed they were Doing The Right Thing.

  • Vernon Depner||

    I doubt that. They knew they were committing injustices, but were afraid not to.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    As a former trial lawyer, here's how it works. Short course.

    The job of the jury is to decide the facts. The job of the court is to decide the law.

    When the case goes to the jury the court instructs the jury as to the law, and then tells the jury that in order to find the defendant guilty under the law the jury must find that the defendant did X, Y or Z act or acts. If mental state is an issue then the jury must also find that the requisite state (intent, negligence, etc) was also present.

    Jury nullification occurs, essentially, when the jury takes it on itself to decide what the law really is (or should be). In other words, for example, if an elderly man kills his wife who is suffering from a painful terminal illness, the jury may decide that this is not murder even though the terms of the state penal code are met.

  • Vastlyamused||

    Just out of idle curiosity, why doesn't this article mention the girl's (presuming it was a girl) age?

    Also- why doesn't the article describe the circumstances under which the defendant deleted the video? Did he do it almost immediately? Or after he had reason to believe the cops were looking for him?

    Wouldn't that information be useful in reaching an informed decision on the question of whether or not the punishment is appropriate?

  • Old Smokin' Egg||

    I'll give two cautious cheers for jury nulification, but will withhold the third.

    The problem is that jury nullification can go two ways. On the one hand, as emphasized by its proponents, juries can put an end to prosecution for unjust laws, applications of laws contrary to their spirit—see, for instance, the people charged with kiddie-porn counts for possessing photos that they took of themselves—or laws with mandatory sentences completely out of proportion to the crimes.

    On the other hand, I can also see it going in the other direction: "This guy may not be in violation of the letter of the law, but it's pretty clear that he's a scumbag, so we'll send him to prison on general principles." To see this kind of process in action, we need only look at the numerous civil cases in which Big Corporation pretty clearly hadn't done anything wicked or negligent in this particular case, but the jury felt sorry for the plaintiff, wanted to give her something, and figured that the respondent must've done something evil at some other time, and beside, they can afford it...

    The letter of the law is a protection for innocent but unsympathetic defendants. We should be very cautious about urging jurors to ignore it and to go with their gut feelings about the goodness or nastiness of the defendant.

  • DPICM||

    I generally agree with your comment, but there are two things in response. First, you're comparing apples and oranges by mixing criminal trails with civil trials. In civil trials, you're not technically talking about jury nullification, even though I agree with your point.

    More importantly, your argument about the dangers of just disregarding the law based on feelings has merit, but that's why juries should always be informed of all their rights, and both the prosecution and defense should argue these points directly to the juries. I see no harm in allowing the prosecutor to argue the elements of the crime, and to argue why, even though the defendant is sympathetic, the jury should not nullify and should convict him anyway. Have an open debate on the issue and let the jury decide.

  • James Pollock||

    The point is, the jury is present as the finder of fact. What happened, who did it, and did what they did violate the statute as accused?

    Questions about whether or not the law, as written, is wise or just is a matter for elections, not jury action. If you think mandatory minimums are bad, vote for legislators who take them out of statutes, and don't put any new ones in, and don't vote for the initiative measures that try to enact them without the legislature.

    What punishment the guy faces if convicted is NOT a question for the jury, except in capital cases. We don't want them to decide how much to punish the defendant, we want them to decide if the prosecutor has proved the defendant guilty.

  • Henry||

    Jury nullification, by definition, is only towards acquittals.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

  • James Pollock||

    We like to pretend that, let's call it "jury amplification" if you object to applying the term "jury nullification" to a conviction not based on evidence, just doesn't exist.
    It's beyond the power of the government to punish people if they can't prove them guilty, and getting 12 saps (or 6 for misdemeanors, or only 11 in Oregon) to decide "well, they didn't prove it, but they probably got the right guy" or "this guy might not have done this crime, but he probably did something else he didn't get caught for", and vote guilty is a miscarriage of justice.

    (For a fictional version, how about the central trial of "To Kill a Mockingbird"?)

    Then, when they come up for parole, we demand that they drop their claim that they didn't do the crime charged. We deny parole to the convicts who don't show the proper remorse for what they've done.

  • Old Smokin' Egg||

    A pamphlet circulated by the Fully Informed Jury Association includes the sentence "Jurors often end up apologizing to the person they've convicted—or to the community for acquitting a defendant when evidence of guilt seems perfectly clear."

    That second part suggests that nullification wouldn't always operate in the defendant's favor. One can easily imagine a jury deciding to convict based on improperly obtained evidence, or just because they decide that the defendant's clearly a scumbag who should be got off the street, even if there's not enough evidence to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • QuadGunner||

    I can't believe I haven't seen a joke about charging it to the Underhills yet

  • Eddy||

    So, let's see, this isn't about whether his behavior was a crime, because there are laws in every state against what he did.

    Instead, this is about making a literal federal case out of the guy's behavior and asking the jury to convict without knowing about the disproportionate sentence the defendant faces.

    I'm not even sure if the jury is even allowed to consider the key issue of whether there's an interstate commerce connection. Would it even be permitted to argue to the jury that this was a local crime, not affecting interstate commerce and not triggering federal involvement?

  • James Pollock||

    "Instead, this is about making a literal federal case out of the guy's behavior and asking the jury to convict without knowing about the disproportionate sentence the defendant faces."

    The jury's job is to determine the facts. What did this defendant do, and did those acts violate this statute?

    At that point, the jury's job is over, and the judge takes over. Except for capital cases, sentencing is tried to the judge, not the jury, who've already gone home by that point in the trial.

    "I'm not even sure if the jury is even allowed to consider the key issue of whether there's an interstate commerce connection"

    They're not. That's a matter of law, not fact, and so that issue would be raised in a pretrial motion, before there's even a jury selection.

    "Would it even be permitted to argue to the jury that this was a local crime, not affecting interstate commerce and not triggering federal involvement?"

    No. That's a matter of law. If the trial judge gets it wrong, you put it in the record that you think the trial judge got it wrong, and raise the issue in an appeal.

    The judge wanted to kick this case. The defense didn't give him any good enough reasons to do so.

  • Eddy||

    Let's not surrender ground inadvertently. Jury "nullification" is a good remedy for bad laws, or bad applications of laws - but first the jury needs to make sure the law actually *is* as bad as the judge says.

    Thus, in this case I'd say the jury should consider whether there's enough of an interstate commerce angle to trigger federal jurisdiction in the first place. And while it would be acceptable for the prosecution to throw a bunch of Supreme Court precedents at them, the defense should likewise be able to argue that the Supreme Court was - get your smelling salts ready - *wrong* to expand interstate commerce into local activities and local crimes.

    It's the jury, not the judge or the Supreme Court, which has the responsibility of saying if someone is Guilty or Not Guilty. And, while the judge should be able to overrule the jury if it makes a wrongful *conviction,* it's not the judge's business to inquire whether an *acquittal* was a good idea or not.

    Laws are supposed to be intelligible to regular people - otherwise they're unconstitutional. So logically, the laws should be intelligible to a jury without them having to be told by the judge what the law means (unless the jury *seeks* the advice of the judge).

    Only when the jury is satisfied that the defendant actually violated the law - the law as understood by the jury - will be it be time to ask if the law was just or is being applied fairly.

  • James Pollock||

    "Laws are supposed to be intelligible to regular people - otherwise they're unconstitutional."

    That's an interesting claim. Citation?

    Does this mean that laws against uninspected entry to the United States are unconstitutional as applied to people who don't speak or read English? What if you try to apply a law to, say, an infant?

  • James Pollock||

    "Thus, in this case I'd say the jury should consider whether there's enough of an interstate commerce angle to trigger federal jurisdiction in the first place."

    No, they really shouldn't. The issue was already considered by the judge, and the judge was apparently satisfied that it does (the upload to Google's cloud does this, though it's also very likely what got the guy caught.)

    The edge case for interstate commerce involves a farmer who grew grain which was consumed by the livestock on the same farm where it was grown. Huh? If the grain never went anywhere, how was it "interstate" commerce? Heck, how was it even "commerce"? Well, goes the logic, there IS an interstate market for grain, and Congress can definitely regulate that market. And any OTHER production of grain affects that interstate market, even if the grain in question never leaves the state it was grown in.

    If there is any kind of judicial pullback on Congressional "interstate commerce" power, one of the first dominoes to fall will be the Controlled Substances Act. Many of the Substances that are Controlled are illegal in any of the 50 states... therefore there is no lawful interstate commerce to regulate. That's just one of the reasons why Republicans, who like to talk about reducing the federal government, never actually try to rein in "Interstate commerce" regulation authority.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Let's face it. The Commerce Clause has been expanded beyond all recognition over time, but certainly since Congress used it as the basis for the Mann Act. It was also certainly abused in the early Civil Rights era as the tool for going after facilities that discriminated against blacks. SCOTUS considered all of this acceptable because of the overarching "social good" that was achieved. But with those precedents in place it is now impossible to resist any Congressional assertion of Commerce Clause authority to legislate almost anything it wishes.

    And the simple fact is that neither major party wants to do anything about it. Note, for example, that Congress would much rather inquire into Kavanaugh's alleged high school peccadilloes than whether he would be inclined to vote to narrow the scope of Commerce Clause jurisdiction.

  • James Pollock||

    "And the simple fact is that neither major party wants to do anything about it. Note, for example[...]"

    Both parties have had turns with control of both houses of Congress and the White House in recent decades. Neither one chose to tackle immigration (because there are factions in each party which favor wildly ydifferent solutions) or balancing the budget (In fact, one of the first things the Republicans did was UNbalance the budget that was in surplus when they took over... I'll give the D's a pass on that one because their single issue was getting us out of the wars W led us into, and the economy was a bit of a higher priority. Then they chose to die on the healthcare reform hill, and then they were out of time.)

    Both R's and D's want an expansive federal government, when they get to run it. They'll use the power to do different things, and to bully different states over different issues, but neither one can walk away from the power when they have it, and neither one can do anything about it when they're out of power.

  • Eddy||

    Finally, let's look at who is most likely to be guilty of nullification. I'd say it's the judges, at least in culturally-charged constitutional cases and cases where the judges like to expand the power of the feds.

  • Eddy||

    Maybe we can rely on judges to adhere to the law in some cases like trademark disputes, etc., but when a case touches on issues of federal power or the latest cultural fads in constitutional law...they're more likely to nullify than a jury.

  • Eman||

    Jury nullification sounds like an idea from the 1700s or something. Maybe it was necessary back then, but everyone who 's anyone recognizes our technology as the testament it obviously is to how much smarter we are now.

  • Robert||

    See, the juries would nullify in this case, but not the way you think. They'd convict the defendant not for transmitting the image, but for fucking a teenager. So they'll convict him of this crime, but only because they can't convict him for the act they actually think he should be punished for, regardless of whether it's even illegal.

  • Tionico||

    but there is the rub.. Feds have no local jurisdiction over criminal activities at the state level, and so can not press the matter of the alledged act itself. That is left to the state, which, per the article, are doing that or have so done.

    For some unknown reason Feds have their own panties in a twist and for some unknown reason desire to run their own dog and poiny show prosecution INNADDITION TO the state crinimal charges. I suspect there must be a bck story as to HOW feds got wind of this case and demanded to fly their on IN ADDITION to that of the state;I hope someone does some digging to find the nexus behind the very tenuous "the phone was not made in this state thus we have jurisdiction because of the interstate commerce farce. WHAT IS IT about the Feds that drive them to stick their long schnozzes in all manner of places they have no call to invade?
    Meanwhile, how many recent federal jurisdiction crimes have been committed, plainly visible to any with their eyes more than halfway, and as yet not prosecuted? WHY are they zeroing in on this two bit operator?

  • James Pollock||

    "Feds have no local jurisdiction over criminal activities at the state level, and so can not press the matter of the alledged act itself."

    The Feds aren't trying him for violating state law. They're trying him for violating federal law. They get to do that.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    But you must admit this is a stretch at best. So why are they doing it? I'd say it has something to do with padding statistics in the war on child pornography, and leave it at that.

  • James Pollock||

    "So why are they doing it?"

    The fact that he's pretty clearly guilty, if the facts are as described, comes to mind.

  • dangfitz||

    "Judges don't generally want jurors told they can pull the plug on a prosecution because they don't like the law or the possible sentence. They're generally not permitted to inform juries about nullification"

    Judges are "not permitted" to inform juries about nullification? Is there a law to that effect?

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Judges are required to instruct the jury that they are required to follow the law as the judge instructs them in the law.

  • James Pollock||

    "Judges don't generally want jurors told they can pull the plug on a prosecution"

    That's what the grand jury is FOR.

    Now, you can interpret the fact that grand juries almost never do so in a couple of different ways.
    For example, you can assume that things are so biased in the prosecution's favor that they almost can't lose in the grand jury. Or maybe it's just that prosecutors are good at their jobs, and don't bother the grand jury unless they have the goods to go forward.
    It's probably both, plus some others I didn't bother to spell out.

  • JonFrum||

    If the charge does not satisfy, you must nullify.

    The founders talked about jury duty as an opportunity to vote - just as citizens vote for politicians. Is it nullification when people vote against an incumbent, or vote by referendum to change a law? The Constitution gives juries the right to decide verdicts. It says nothing about what they can or cannot consider.

  • Goldtone||

    MANZANO, 33, sexually assaulted a 15-year-old female victim in Connecticut, video recorded the assault with his cell phone, and uploaded the video to his Google account. Took me about 5 seconds to find this. Age of consent in CT is 16.

  • Truthteller1||

    This isn't about juries, it is about absurd minimum sentencing guidelines and taking the judge, and common sense, out of the sentencing process.

  • loveconstitution1789||

  • Tionico||

    The phoney meme making this "interstate commerce" needs to be nullified, and at that point rhe Fudds have no case.
    Furhter, it appeared from the article above that the state have already indicted him under their own laws. For Feds to come in and indict him a second time for the same action is UNCONSTITUITONAL. Its called "double jeopardy" and is prohibited. The jury MUST nullify on that basis as well.


    I would think bringing in the precedent supposedly set in Lawrence that "moral standards" cannot be used as a basis for state law. In that case the Supremes all bedecked in their black nighties declared that the people of the State of Texas could not enact a law based on a moral standard. Is that not what is happening in this case as well? They're playing the other side of the fence as well as the first side.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    No, not double jeopardy. That issue has been litigated more times than I can count. He is not being tried twice for the same offense. The state charges and the federal charges are different even though arising from the same events, therefore the offenses are different and double jeopardy does not apply.

  • jerryg1018||

    The Supreme Court defined what constitutes CP as "a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct." This rules out nude images of minors. I wonder what the image was in this case. I also wonder if the jury got to see the image or is expected to rely on the prosecutions description.

  • James Pollock||

    "The Supreme Court defined what constitutes CP as "a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct." This rules out nude images of minors."

    No, Congress spelled out what constitutes CP, and put it in a statute. Specifically, in 18 USC 2256.

    Suggested reading for anyone considering this story would be 18 USC 2251 through 18 USC 2256.

    Congress was VERY specific about what you can't do. Nude images of minors are not INHERENTLY child porn, but the ones that are, are.

    Early attempts at limiting child porn runs into first amendment problems.. The main justifications used for excluding child porn from first amendment protection is that creating actual child porn involves sexually abusing children, and that the existence of some child porn induces the creation of more child porn.

  • James Pollock||

    Isn't it the grand jury that's supposed to decide whether or not a defendant should be prosecuted, not the petit jury?

    The complaint here doesn't seem to be whether or not he did the crime, or even whether or not what he did should be considered a crime, but rather, whether the crime charged should have a mandatory minimum in the 180 months range. That's a legislative problem, not a judicial one.

  • letters2mary||

    The problem I have with jury nullification is that I like it only when the jury does something I want and not otherwise.

    Jury nullification, while it does and will continue to happen, is a distortion of the jury's role as trier of fact, expanding it to occupy the space of the arbiter of law.

    For all those who get excited about jury nullification, it must be remembered that judges have the capacity to rule notwithstanding a jury's conclusions.

  • Flinch||

    Reasonable doubt is something every jury decides for itself. And, doesn't every judge ask them to look at both the law and the evidence? Absent regular people in the jury box, things are pretty much over: it's J'accuse and a rubber stamp.

  • jerryg1018||

    The first child porn law passed in 1978 grandfathered any child porn possessed before the law took effect. Reason: Ex Post Facto clause in the Constitution prohibiting retroactive laws. Most of the child porn circulating on the Internet is scans of the Lolita magazines produced during the 1960's and '70's. The 1978 law banned images of minors having sex, but legislators who were ignorant about the Lolita magazines actual content of 70% nude images allowed the magazines to continue to publish the nude content. In 1984 then President Reagan established the Meese Commission to investigate child porn. The Meese Report triggered Congress to pass a law that banned virtually any image of a minor. Stick figures and cartoons were also banned. That cute cartoon with two tykes standing nude beside a bathtub with the boy saying, "No you can't ouch mine, you already broke yours" became child porn. Hustler magazine had to discontinue it's monthly Chester the Molester cartoon when threatened by the government. The punch line in the cartoon series was how Chester was always thwarted by either the kids, granny, the parents or the police. Much of the '78 and subsequent attempts by Congress to pass new child porn laws were gutted by the Supreme Court in the Ashcroft v Free Speech Coalition decision. The Court defined child porn as, "A actual minor engaged in a sexually explicit act."

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