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No Brady violation in sex-sting case

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A defendant failed to show there was a Brady violation in his trial for enticing who he thought was an underage girl he met on the internet, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. Even though the government didn't know two other "underage girls" he chatted with were really police officers involved in the same sting at the time he was indicted, that information isn't enough to grant a new trial under the plain error standard.

In United States of America v. James Daniel, No. 08-2672, James Daniel was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. Section 2442(b), which forbids knowingly persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing an individual under 18 to engage in criminal sexual activity. Daniel communicated with Amanda_13, whom he believed was only 13, and convinced "her" to meet him at a park to have sex.

At trial, evidence was admitted of online conversations Daniel had with two other supposed underage girls - daisy13_Indiana and blonddt. The government didn't know until the sentencing phase that daisy13_Indiana was a police officer. It wasn't until the Circuit Court reviewed the case did the government learn blonddt was also a police officer. The 7th Circuit Court had dealt with another defendant caught in the same sting operation who communicated with blonddt.

Daniel claimed the government's failure to disclose the identity of these two screen names during his trial violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and he should be granted a new trial.

But the Circuit Court found this information wasn't material to his trial. The identity of these screen names doesn't impeach Secret Service agent James Kimes' testimony regarding his examination of Daniel's computer, wrote Judge Diane Wood.

"All that Daniel could have shown, had the government informed him that daisy13_Indiana and blonddt were names operated by police officers, was that Kimes did not know much about the undercover operation," she wrote. "But Kimes never said that he did know about it, and so this information would not have impeached his testimony."

Daniel also failed to prove his entrapment argument because the chats with these two screen names happened after he already initiated the chats with Amanda_13, who turned out to be a police officer.

In addition, the identity of these two screen names doesn't affect the admissibility of the conversations under Rule 404(b) or their relevance, the judge wrote. They were admitted to show Daniel's state of mind and what mattered was he believed he was chatting about sex with minor girls. There's also no reasonable probability that a jury would have acquitted him because the evidence overwhelmingly showed he used the Internet to persuade Amanda_13 to meet him to have sex.

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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