Nov 11, 2012

Child Porn Expert Sued Over Morphed Images

Attorney Dean Boland
The law has not been kind to Lakewood, Ohio lawyer Dean Boland of late.  The technology expert was hit in 2009 with a $300,000 damage award pursuant to the civil damage provisions of the federal child pornography laws; the award was affirmed last week by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Doe and Roe vs Boland.

The civil claim arose in relation to Boland's expert testimony and his attendant exhibits prepared for the accused in a pair of child pornography cases.  Boland admits that he took stock photos of children, models from the Internet, and "morphed" them onto images depicting sexual acts.

The idea, according to Boland, was to demonstrate to a jury the difficulty in ascertaining genuine child pornography.  His testimony, combined with the digitally manipulated images he created, were used to create reasonable doubt in the criminal trials.  By showing the juries "before and after" images of the children, Boland implied that it was impossible to know for sure whether an accused intended to view genuine child pornography.

His expert trial testimony caught the attention of FBI agents in Cleveland, who then searched and seized his computer, and brought the images to the attention of the parents of the minors depicted in the images.

The parents sued Boland under the civil damage provisions of the federal child pornography statute. The statute liquidates damages in the minimum amount of $150,000.

Initially, the federal court judge granted Boland's motion for summary judgment, ruling that the civil damages provisions of the statute exempt expert witnesses from liability; the Sixth Circuit reversed this decision and remanded the case back to the trial court.

On appeal, Boland's argument that his images were protected by the First Amendment failed.  The Sixth Circuit's ruling stuck to precedent holding that the evil of child pornography far outweighs it's expressive value, even in the "expert witness" context.

For now, Boland faces a civil judgment in the amount of $300,000.  Perhaps he can use some of the revenue from his other clients to satisfy this judgment.

Boland also gained some measure of infamy by stepping in as the 4th lawyer to represent Craig Ceglia, the crackpot who is suing Facebook on the basis of an allegedly bogus contract Ceglia says he signed with Mark Zuckerberg.  Ceglia was recently arrested on criminal fraud charges in the matter.

Hopefully, Boland charged a huge retainer before Ceglia's arrest; he'll need it to pay-off his child porn expert judgment.

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