Federal criminal charges are being brought against a series of Atlanta-based employees of schools. Here and here are some stories. We represent one of the people accused in these matters, which are very difficult to defend. These cases are part of an ever-expanding national trend. We have done many such cases, involving doctors, federal employees, computer programmers, salesmen and others. No matter what business our client is in, all of these cases require sensitivity, compassion, along with a willingness to try new tactics in the right situation.
Many of these cases involve clients with eerily similar backgrounds. Many of our clients are men who have been happily and successfully married for many years. These men often are exemplary fathers. I recall one poignant sentencing hearing where the 20-something daughters of our client made such fantastic speeches that the Judge commented how as a feminist she could not help but praise our client and his wife for raising such amazing daughters. After the sentencing hearing, that Judge even took off her robe, and came down to spend some time with the wife and daughters.
These cases also can be very technical, involving significant amounts of forensic computer evidence. Such cases sometimes revolve around whether a search warrant was properly presented, signed or executed. If the investigators failed to follow the law, we sometimes are able to get the evidence “suppressed”, or at least put the case in a better posture for negotiating a plea agreement.
Deciding whether it is the client’s best interest to negotiate a “deal” is important in every case, but never more so than in child pornography federal criminal cases. The child pornography laws have been made more and more strict over the years, often with associated “mandatory minimum” penalties. Also, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines have been ratcheted up over the years, although we sometimes have convinced judges that the Guidelines were too high, resulting in a lower sentence after we filed a Sentencing Memo. Many attorneys fail to realize that preparing for a sentencing hearing in federal court can be almost as difficult as preparing for a regular trial in the state court system.
But perhaps more than anything, the greatest difficult in such cases is that the client is accused of ordering or looking at images of children who are sometimes abused. Me and Carl have children, and are like anyone else in wanting to protect our families. But, we also are zealous in trying to understand our clients’ situations, and in protecting the rights of everyone who hires us. These cases are challenging, but we do not shirk away from these difficult matters.