Porn News

Attorneys hit law denying child-porn evidence

RICHMOND, Va. Computer forensic experts and an attorney who handles a lot of obscenity cases testified in Richmond today that a new federal law would make it difficult for them to work for defendants in child pornography cases.

Lawyers for David Knellinger of Richmond want U-S district Judge Robert Payne to strike down a provision in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which President Bush signed in July.

At issue is a provision that prevents lawyers from obtaining copies of child porn contraband to assist them in preparing their client’s defense. The provision says the government must make the evidence reasonably available to the defense — it just can’t be taken off government property.

Two technology experts testified that the restriction would impede communication, and that it would be too expensive to move their equipment to a government-controlled facility.

Attorney H- Lewis Sirkin of Cincinnati testified it would be difficult to find experts willing to work for defendants under the new restrictions.

Knellinger is charged with four counts of receiving child porn, and one count each of possession and attempted distribution.

from The Washington Times: RICHMOND — Defense attorneys in a child pornography case contend that a new federal law restricting their access to key evidence is unconstitutional. Lawyers for David L. Knellinger have asked U.S. District Judge Robert Payne to strike down a provision in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which President Bush signed in July. Judge Payne will hear oral arguments tomorrow. The statute, named for the murdered son of “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh, toughens penalties for convicted child molesters and requires that they be listed on a national Internet database. The provision Mr. Knellinger’s lawyers want overturned requires that child pornography “contraband” remain in the possession and control of the government or the court. It specifically directs courts to deny defense requests to copy such contraband, provided the government makes the material “reasonably available” to the defendant. The law leaves it to judges to decide what is reasonable access. Ian N. Friedman, the lead lawyer for Mr. Knellinger, said the provision violates his client’s right to effective counsel and his due-process rights by impeding the preparation of his defense. Mr. Knellinger’s lawyers want to have their own experts examine his computer and the images that led to the charges, but they must do it on government property. “It would be unthinkable for government agents to have to do all their trial preparation in the office of a defense lawyer,” Mr. Friedman said. He also said the restriction affects attorney-client communication and, in this case, creates logistical and financial burdens by requiring Mr. Knellinger’s lawyers and defense experts to travel from Ohio to Virginia. Federal prosecutors argue in court papers that the statute’s impact can be addressed only on a case-by-case basis and note that at least one federal court, in Iowa, has already ruled that the restrictions on control and copying child-porn evidence are constitutional. The U.S. attorney’s office wrote in a brief that the provision “neither prevents communication between attorney and client nor short-circuits defense counsel’s ability to develop strategy.” The rationale for the restriction, according to government attorneys, was to limit the number of times a child can be victimized by the duplication of the pornographic images.

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