Free Speech

Lawyer Dean Boland Asks Google to Deindex Court Opinions, Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts About Him

Including from Above The Law, Jonathan Turley, PopeHat, Simple Justice, TechDirt, Reuters, Bloomberg, L.A. Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and more.

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For part of the backstory, see the opening paragraph from the recent Sixth Circuit court decision that Boland (who has also gone by Jack Boland) was seeking to deindex:

This is the final chapter in the story of Dean Boland, the lawyer and expert witness who unfortunately chose to create child pornography in defense of his clients charged with possessing child pornography. Two of the children victimized by Boland won a $300,000 civil judgment against him, which he tried to wipe away ("discharge") in bankruptcy. A judgment can be discharged in bankruptcy, provided the judgment wasn't the result of the debtor knowingly injuring someone. The bankruptcy court here discharged the civil judgment, but only because it bought Boland's implausible pleas of ignorance. That was clear error, so we REVERSE….

The story begins in 2004, when Boland was serving as a technology expert for Oklahoma and Ohio defendants charged with possessing child pornography. Boland provided his clients a simple defense: doubt. Here's how it went. Boland created "before-and-after" exhibits. The "before" exhibits were innocuous stock photographs Boland found online of two young girls, Jane Doe and Jane Roe. Boland manipulated ("morphed") these photographs on his computer to create the "after" exhibits: images of Doe and Roe engaged in sex acts. If Boland could whip up doctored pornography this easily, the argument went, then it's possible the pornography his clients downloaded was doctored, too. In essence, the defense was that there's just no way of knowing whether real children are depicted in pornography found on the internet.

Boland tried out his exhibits in an Oklahoma federal court. After he testified, to his surprise, the prosecution turned toward him. The "after" exhibits, prosecutors claimed, were actionable child pornography. The judge interrupted that the exhibits were prepared "at court order" but told Boland to delete the images anyway. Boland didn't comply. Instead, he called federal prosecutors in his hometown, Cleveland, to see if they agreed his exhibits were illegal. The prosecutors didn't call back. So Boland shipped his computer from Oklahoma to his mother in Ohio, fearing prosecution. Nevertheless, he also continued using the exhibits in testimony in Ohio courtrooms.

As it turns out, Boland's exhibits were in fact illegal. 18 U.S.C. § 2256(8)(C) defines as "child pornography" any image which is morphed to make it appear that a real minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Ohio federal prosecutors caught up with Boland and offered him a pre-trial diversion agreement in lieu of prosecution, which Boland signed. In the agreement, Boland admitted he violated federal law (18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B), specifically) in morphing the images of Doe and Roe into child pornography.

Federal prosecutors identified Doe and Roe as part of their investigation and told Doe and Roe's parents what Boland had done. The parents promptly sued Boland under the civil-remedy provision of the federal child pornography statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2255, which provides minimum damages of $150,000 to victims of child pornographers. Seeing as Boland admitted he violated the law, Doe and Roe won a combined $300,000 judgment. We rejected all of Boland's challenges to criminal and civil liability….

Some of the links he sought to deindex (thus hiding them from Google searchers) reflect what the stories were about (I've reordered the list for clarity); I've also added a space after each "https" to avoid HTML weirdness:

https ://www.techdirt.com/articles/20151026/06420132633/lawyer-threatens-another-lawyer-with-defamation-lawsuit-if-old-blog-post-loaded-with-facts-isnt-removed-immediately.shtml
https ://blog.simplejustice.us/2015/10/25/dean-boland-doubles-down-on-stupid/
https ://www.popehat.com/2015/10/27/ohio-attorney-dean-boland-threatens-scott-greenfield-badly/
https ://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-pornography/lawyer-owes-300000-for-showing-child-pornography-at-trial-idUSBRE8A902W20121110
https ://jonathanturley.org/2012/11/14/ohio-lawyer-forced-to-admit-to-child-porn-for-trial-exhibit-of-morphed-images-and-then-hit-with-300000-in-damages/
https ://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyer-who-created-digital-child-porn-as-expert-witness-owes-300k-to-women-whose-photos-he-used
https ://www.courthousenews.com/lawyer-in-hot-water-for-photoshopping-child-porn/
https ://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/2019/02/court-says-lakewood-attorney-who-created-fake-child-porn-for-expert-witness-work-must-pay-300000-to-victims-despite-bankruptcy.html
https ://www.wired.com/2012/11/morphed-kiddie-porn/
https ://www.twincities.com/2012/10/30/lawyer-for-ny-man-suing-facebook-wants-out-of-case/
https ://observer.com/2012/10/defense-lawyer-of-paul-ceglia-alleged-facebook-defrauder-pulls-out-of-case/
https ://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/10/facebook-claimant-paul-ceglia-gets-new-lawyer.html
https ://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-10-21/facebook-claimant-s-lawyer-hit-with-morphed-child-porn-images-judgment
https ://www.pdffiller.com/432949602–Attorney-Dean-Boland-
https ://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/20a0004p-06.pdf
https ://www.lexvisio.com/article/2020/01/22/tech-expert-witness-avoids-jail-loses-bankruptcy-bid
https ://www.legalreader.com/attorney-who-created-child-porn-must-pay-300k/
https ://www.law.csuohio.edu/newsevents/events/2016020609003404
https ://www.law.com/americanlawyer/almID/1202479188427/
https ://www.law360.com/articles/1231423/atty-must-face-300k-child-porn-judgment-6th-circ-says
https ://www.kashifali.ca/tag/crime/page/29/
https ://www.forlawfirmsonly.com/lawyer-who-created-digital-child-porn-to-make-a-legal-point-cant-escape-300k-judgment-court-rules/
https ://www.dailyherald.com/article/20121127/business/711279933/
https ://www.courtlistener.com/docket/1002/in-re-dean-boland/
https ://www.businessinsider.com/why-paul-ceglias-lawyer-dropped-him-2012-10
https ://www.amazon.com/Donor-X-Dean-Boland/dp/1462028926
https ://www.adweek.com/digital/dean-boland-withdrawal-denied-paul-ceglia/
https ://volo.abi.org/cco/in-re-dean-boland
http ://supremecourt.ohio.gov/pdf_viewer/pdf_viewer.aspx?pdf=632252.pdf
https ://disbarment61.rssing.com/chan-4741665/all_p1.html
https ://clustrmaps.com/a/31dba8/
https ://casetext.com/case/boland-v-holder
https ://buffalonews.com/news/new-ceglia-lawyer-has-own-issues/article_9f23f98b-3f6d-54bd-b63d-3b7e5b3b5d84.html
https ://blog.expertpages.com/expertwitness/lawyer-who-created-digital-child-porn-must-pay-300k.htm
https ://abovethelaw.com/tag/dean-boland/
http ://legalnews.com/detroit/1369660
http ://lakewoodobserver.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14527
https ://www.yelp.com/biz/boland-dean-attorney-at-law-lakewood
https ://www.yahoo.com/news/judge-lawyer-cant-withdraw-ny-194141830.html
https ://www.washingtontimes.com/topics/dean-boland/

The court order offered to Google as a basis for the request was a name change order, which of course isn't really a substantive justification, coupled with this statement (which seems to have been truncated):

The entire court order is sealed for my personal safety. I am a victim of domestic violence, death threats and harassment that followed from that incident. The perpetrator is my former spouse. She plead guilty to charges related to her assault on me in our home with your school age children present. Following that event, she made numerous threats on my life, her own life, and threats to "crash her car with the children inside." She interfered with my work such that I was terminated from my job. She interfered with second career schooling I enrolled in nearly causing me to be dropped from the program until the administrators realized who was making the false complaints, etc. I showed this evidence and my own testimony to the Probate Court and they granted me a sealed name change. Name changes are only sealed in Ohio upon a showing of a significant threat to the personal safety and security of the applicant for the name change. However, my form …

I suspect that Google isn't going to act on the request, but the attempt to hide this information struck me as worth noting.

NEXT: The Amazing Randi RIP

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  1. It’s kind of sad that, the Volokh Conspiracy isn’t on this link list of Honor. Well anyway, apparently Lawyers are NOT the smartest folks in the room. Of course, Prenda Law had many dubious honors which Popehat covered well. https://www.popehat.com/2017/03/06/prenda-saga-update-john-steele-pleads-guilty-admits-entire-scheme/

  2. I dunno man, I really can’t make the logical leap from photoshopping preexisting images to being equivalent to posing real children in actual cp. It seems insane to me that some sequence of fiddling around with the smudge tool on an otherwise legal freely available image is deserving of a six figure judgment or even imprisonment and death at the hand of some wackadoodle. I know he shared it and that changes things and what may be deserving of some punishment but the overall mentality to expand this crime into the realm of fiction i can’t agree with.

    1. I think the mistake the statute makes isn’t making it illegal, but making it the same as CP.

      It should definitely be illegal to use photos of real children to make pornography. That’s awful behavior.

      But it’s not the same thing as recording children having sex. As is often the case, this sort of nuance is lost because of the fact that CP is such a sociopathic enterprise.

    2. I actually agree with you here.

  3. This guy doesn’t seem all that bright.

    1. Yes, totally agreed. But the purpose of the law isn’t to slam people just for not being bright. Nobody is perfectly intelligent about everything they do in their life.

      It’s interesting, and it says something about the justice system in our society, that the attorney who engaged the expert, and whose advice the expert relied on, doesn’t seem to have suffered any consequences. Why should the smart people get a pass from the same activity just because they’re smart?

  4. I somehow think that a technical expert who is engaged by an attorney to provide a defense at a trial is a mitigating circumstance.

    I understand intent is not an element of child pornography statutes. Nonetheless, I do think that the partial defense means that his case be given some measure of individualized, even mercy, and shouldn’t necessarily be reflexively treated as a child pornographer for all purposes – being put on sex offender registries for the rest of his life etc.

    I think the bankruptcy judge may have been correct in this case. Whereas child pornography criminal statutes have no intent element, I’m not so sure this is the case of the relevant bankruptcy statute. I’m not sure the court of appeals should have reversed it.

    1. I somehow think that a technical expert who is engaged by an attorney to provide a defense at a trial is a mitigating circumstance.

      On the one hand, I sort of agree with you here. On the other, though, look at the argument he was making, according to the opinion: “If Boland could whip up doctored pornography this easily, the argument went, then it’s possible the pornography his clients downloaded was doctored, too.”

      The problem is that the statute itself includes doctored images in the definition of child pornography. One of the definitions of child pornography under the statute [§ 2256(8)(C)] is any visual depiction of explicit sexual conduct where “such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

      So even if he could clearly and convincingly demonstrate to the court that the specific images downloaded by his client were doctored, or might have been doctored, that wouldn’t change the fact that his client had downloaded something that is defined, under the law, as child pornography.

      We could argue about whether that particular definition of child pornography is a good one, but surely any lawyer who knows how to read a statute should have known that he was treading a pretty dangerous path by sitting down and creating an image that had been “modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

      1. True.

        He could have merely testified, “It’s easy, if one wanted to, to manipulate innocent pictures of clothed children to make it look like sexual behavior.” This by itself would create the image he wants to place in jurors’ minds. He hardly needed demonstrative evidence.

        1. Yes, but surely a demonstration is more credible than simply saying so. And of course a defendant is entitled to leeway in presenting a defense. If it was a valid defense legally, I think the evidence would have been allowable.

    2. I somehow think that a technical expert who is engaged by an attorney to provide a defense at a trial is a mitigating circumstance.

      Which is probably why the federal prosecutors 1. started by simply noting that his action were illegal and 2. even after he continued using the pictures as part of his presentation, still offered a deferred prosecution agreement rather than making him a felon and sex offender and sending him to prison.

      1. But then they called the parents…

  5. I seem to recall reading about a case a while ago that decided that animated or simulated child pornography was not a crime.

    I’m probably wrong, but the whole rationale for making possession of child pornography a crime seems to be the damage creating it does to actual children involved. If no actual children are involved where is the damage? Using photo-shopped images of actual children would seem to fall somewhere in between.

  6. It looks like every district judge who looked at this has agreed this isn’t what the law is supposed to do. The district judge in the original case said that the statute doesn’t cover expert witness testimony and then followed up by saying the court had ordered him to prepare this exhibit. The bankruptcy judge said debts incurred under these circumstances are dischargable.

    They all got reversed by the 6th Circuit. Maybe the 6th Circuit is wrong here.

    1. 6th circuit is probably “technically correct” but it’s not justice.

  7. So, the only harm suffered by Doe, was when a prosecutor called them to tell them this exists?

    And that’s worth $300,000?

    And I’m a little confused here. Presumably these minors were “morphed” into pornography. Were their images combined with pictures of 18 year olds?

    And maybe this dumbass loses his credible defense when he didn’t take the judge’s advice and immediately delete the images? He continued to use the images (WITHOUT CONSENT) as a paid witness(?) So he actually profited from them.

    I fail to see that the Does suffered $300,000 in damages, but apparently the jury felt otherwise.

    1. That is apparently the minimum, given $150,000 per victim.

  8. Hang onto your hats. We are only at the threshold of what computer generated images can produce. Soon it will be completely unnecessary, and economically disadvantageous, to use photos of real people or real actors/actresses in porn films.

    Then too we will have sex robots that come with selector switches. man/woman straight/gay adult/child sadism/masochism virgin/cougar human/beast/alien The list of possible variations is endless.

    This should not be an issue for courts to decide, but rather one for lawmakers.

  9. This guy doesn’t seem all that bright.
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    https://4u-review.com/

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