Federal Judge Calls CT Child-Porn Charge ‘Shocking’

U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill says a jury should be allowed to throw out a case in which a man saved and then deleted a sexual video. The defendant would face a mandatory 15-year prison term if he is convicted.

“This is a shocking case. This is a case that calls for jury nullification.” So said U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill in Connecticut about a case over which he presided, reports Reason. The prosecution that shocked Underhill involves Yehudi Manzano, who was charged with producing and transporting child pornography after saving, and then deleting, a video of his teenage sex partner to and from his own phone and its associated Google cloud account. “The only people who ever saw it were the guy who made it, the girl who was in it, and the federal agents,” said Manzano’s attorney. Norman Pattis. Prosecutors said that was enough for the federal government to proceed with charges involving a “visual depiction” transmitted in interstate commerce. The mandatory minimum sentence for recording video of sex with an underage partner is 15 years.

Underhill said, “I am absolutely stunned that this case, with a 15-year mandatory minimum, has been brought by the government.” Underhill acknowledged that he’s not allowed to encourage jury nullification. Defense attorney Pattis argued that juries “stand between the government and the accused, and they provide the accused with an opportunity to hold the government to its burden of proof.” The U.S. Attorney’s office filed an emergency motion it filed seeking a stay in the trial. Prosecutors want time to get a higher court to prevent Underhill from allowing Manzano’s defense counsel to inform jurors of the potential sentence and argue for jury nullification.

from https://thecrimereport.org