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Judges uphold child pornography sentence

April 19, 2010

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found no procedural or substantive errors in a sentence following a man's guilty plea to a child pornography charge.

In United States of America v. Brad Coopman, No. 09-2134, Brad Coopman challenged his sentence of 151 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography. Indiana State Police learned Coopman was using his computer to share three child pornography videos and later discovered more saved on his computer. He pleaded guilty without a plea agreement.

Coopman claimed the District Court improperly placed presumptive weight on the sentencing guidelines, didn't consider non-frivolous arguments, and misapplied 18 U.S.C. Section 3553. He also argued his sentence was unreasonable.

Coopman filed two sentencing memorandums: One urged the court to give the guidelines little weight in sentencing him; the other addressed Section 3553 sentencing factors. He wanted the District Court to adopt the mandatory 60-month imprisonment as required by 18 U.S.C. Section 2252(a)(2).

There were no objections to the pre-sentence investigation report, and the District Court adopted the factual statements in it as its findings of fact. The court also heard witnesses, including a Lafayette police officer who examined Coopman's computer and testified on Coopman's pornography searches conducted on a Purdue University campus computer. Coopman presented Dr. William Hillman, an expert in sexually violent offenders, who testified it was unlikely Coopman would exhibit predatory behavior and that his addiction could be abated.

On appeal, Coopman argued the District Court improperly presumed the sentencing guidelines were reasonable, but there's more than enough evidence to show the court considered the guidelines only in their advisory capacity, wrote Judge Michael Kanne.

Coopman also claimed the District Court improperly failed to consider evidence in the mitigation of his sentence; but the court did address his argument, it just reached a different conclusion than Coopman wanted, the judge noted.

The District Court considered Hillman's testimony but had serious concerns about the doctor's specific experience, methods, and analysis because the doctor wasn't an expert in child pornography. In addition, the District Court properly considered Coopman's arguments in light of Section 3553(a).

The Circuit judges also found Coopman's argument that his sentence was inappropriate to be without merit because the District Court acted reasonably in imposing his sentence.

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