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7th Circuit vacates child porn supervised-release condition

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a sentence for possession of child pornography Thursday that it ruled imposed an unconstitutionally vague condition of supervised release. The court affirmed, in the case, convictions of attempting to distribute heroin and illegal possession of a firearm.

Scott Adkins of Gary was convicted of the heroin count and a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon in a jury trial before Chief Judge Philip P. Simon in the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond. Adkins later pleaded guilty in a separate case to receipt of child pornography.

Authorities in 2009 intercepted a UPS package containing heroin inside stuffed snowmen and tracked it to Adkins’ home with an electronic monitoring device. When Adkins opened the package, the device alerted and agents raided Adkins’ home.

A search turned up two guns and pornographic videos of girls appearing to be 7 or younger, according to the court. Adkins was sentenced to four years of supervised release on the heroin charge and three years of supervised release on the gun charge, concurrent to a term of 15 years supervised release on the child pornography charge.

In accepting supervised release on the child porn charge, Adkins agreed to a condition that he “shall not view or listen to any pornography or sexually stimulating material or sexually oriented material or patronize locations where such material is available.”  

In United States of America v. Scott Adkins, 12-3738, 12-3739, Circuit Judge Joel Flaum wrote for the panel that Adkins was not entitled to a new trial on his argument that the District Court erred in admitting certain evidence and the that jury was improperly instructed. The panel agreed, though, that a special condition of Adkins’ supervised release was vague and constitutionally overbroad, and that it could be appealed even though Adkins agreed to an appeal waiver.

Flaum wrote that an appeal waiver does not preclude the court from reviewing a condition to determine whether it is constitutionally vague, which the panel ruled was the case. “Read literally, this provision might preclude Adkins from using a computer or entering a library – irrespective of what he views in either place,” Flaum wrote. “Indeed, he might not be able to ride the bus, enter a grocery store, watch television, open a magazine or newspaper, read a classic like Romeo and Juliet, or even go out in public (given the ubiquity of advertisements that use potentially sexually oriented or sexually stimulating images to pique customer interest).”

The panel remanded the case to the District Court with instructions to more narrowly tailor the condition.

 

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