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Men took substantial steps to commit crime

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the same issue in two separate Indiana cases of men chatting on the Internet with people they believed to be teen girls: whether there was evidence the men had taken "substantial steps" toward committing the crimes of enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Donald Zawada and Derek Davey appealed their convictions of violating 18 U.S.C. Section 2422(b) - knowingly persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a person under the age of 18 to engage in criminal sexual activity. In both cases, the men had been conversing online with undercover police whom they believed were underage girls. Both men had sexual conversations with the "girls" and discussed meeting; Davey actually made the drive to where he believed the girl lived.

The federal appellate court examined its recent decision in United States v. Gladish, 536 F.3d 646 (7th Cir. 2008), to determine the men had taken substantial steps toward committing the crimes. Gladish held that mere talk in an Internet chat room couldn't support a conviction under Section 2422(b), but more concrete steps are necessary, such as arranging a meeting, buying gifts, or "grooming" someone for a sexual relationship.

In United States v. Donald Zawada, No. 08-1012, Zawada had a conversation about making a date to meet with who he thought was an underage girl and discussed a specific time and day, but the meeting never happened. He also had several conversations with the "girl," which could have been considered grooming her for a sexualized relationship, wrote Judge Diane Wood.

Zawada claimed he wasn't the person associated with the screen names linked to the explicit conversations, but the jury found he had committed a substantial step toward completing the offense and that he was the one chatting with the alleged girl.

Davey's case is similar to Zawada's except that Davey originally pleaded guilty to the charges but later tried to withdraw his appeal. In United States v. Derek S. Davey, No. 07-3533, Davey was arrested in Northern Indiana after he had driven to a restaurant to call the "girl" he had been speaking to about making arrangements to sneak into her house. Before sentencing, Davey retained a new attorney and tried to have his plea thrown out; the District Court denied his motion to withdraw.

On appeal, he argued that he pleaded guilty to something that isn't an offense under Section 2422(b), and that is enough to invalidate his plea, wrote Judge Wood. The 7th Circuit found Davey's admissions in his plea agreement go "a long way" toward meeting the substantial step criteria established in Gladish - he made arrangements to meet with the "girl" he was chatting with and he drove to meet her at a pre-arranged spot.

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  1. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

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  4. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  5. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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