What Do You Do When Preserving Evidence Is Labeled 'Possession' And Destroying It Is A Felony?

from the overcriminalization dept

Have fun with this hypothetical. A shared computer is found to contain child porn. What do you do?

Houston criminal defense lawyer Mark Bennett considered this hypothetical from a defense lawyer's standpoint. At this point, there is (possibly) no investigation already in progress (at least none the client or lawyer are aware of) and there's no way to say definitively who's responsible for the images. What do you tell your client?

It's illegal for him to continue possessing the images. So you can't advise him to do nothing (and keep breaking the law).

The smart thing for him to do would be to destroy the hard drive (if I could, I would recommend swisscheesing it with a drill press).

But tampering with evidence is illegal under both Texas and federal law. Is it a crime to destroy the hard drive? To advise the client to do so?
This isn't entirely a hypothetical situation. Scott Greenfield's blog details a 2007 case involving exactly this sort of situation.
[Connecticut attorney Philip] Russell’s client, the Greenwich Christ Church (not a bad client, I would say), did what any self-respecting church would do when it found child pornography on its church computer: It turned to its lawyer for help. No fed was knocking on the church door. There was no hint of an investigation. There was no reason to believe that anyone would ever know that some sick, disgusting human being using this computer purchased with monies from the tithing of its congregants (I’m making this part up, since I have no idea where the money came from to buy the computer and in Greenwich, they could just as easily live off the interest from the Church’s trust fund), would download photographs that would sicken any normal human being.

So Russell finds himself in the position of having to decide what to do with this computer. The Church no doubt wants its computer back, since it wouldn’t have gotten the computer if it didn’t have any need for it, But the Church does not want this pics on it. Russell, in the meantime, knows of the photos as a result of confidential communications (no argument from any source about whether this was as confidential as it comes) and has to decide what to do about it. He can’t keep the kiddie porn pics, for then he would be violating the law.

So Philip Russell does the only reasonable thing possible. He deletes the horrific photos. BAM, he’s indicted for obstruction, having destroyed evidence.
Back to Bennett, who notes that under Texas law, this is a felony only if the destruction of evidence is done with knowledge of a "pending or in progress" investigation. The problem is that -- in cases involving child porn -- federal law prevails. But not a federal law dealing with child porn possession (which would apply if the offending files remained intact) but rather a law crafted to deal with companies' financial impropriety: Sarbanes-Oxley. This law says that destruction of evidence -- with or without knowledge of a pending/ongoing investigation -- is a federal crime.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don't. The only stipulation is that an investigation is "foreseeable." And child porn on a hard drive pretty much makes an investigation "foreseeable." Turn it in to the cops, and you can guarantee an investigation will start immediately. Depending on how the files were obtained, it's entirely possible that the IP address is already on investigators' radar. Throwing the computer into the nearest dump or off a bridge just to rid yourself of someone else's wrongdoing makes you a felon.

Now, whether the child porn is the client's own, or something he/she discovered (purchased a second-hand computer/shared one with with other household residents), the client needs help. But what help can any lawyer provide? There's no answer that allows for the avoidance of felony charges.

This tainted hard drive is, in and of itself, lawbreaking. So is the deletion of the files. So is simply removing it from your possession. A lawyer really has only one course of action, thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley.
You could, of course, instruct your client on certain aspects of the law: possession of child pornography is a crime; tampering with evidence is a crime; without the hard drive the government is likely to have a hard time proving that you tampered with evidence or that you possessed child pornography; if the government gets its hands on the hard drive they won't have a hard time proving that you possessed child pornography, which will certainly land you in prison; don't talk to anyone about the contents of the hard drive.
There will be those that argue that anything involving child porn shouldn't have an easy out, even if it's a law supposedly targeting financial wrongdoing that's running around locking down all of the escape routes. But there are situations in which an innocent person could find themselves in this position and have no option but to choose the least personally destructive outcome.

And because the theoretical involves child porn (instead of less universally-reviled subject matter), there will always be other "easy" solutions presented.
Some will respond to this dilemma with the facile, “so don’t download porn and you won’t have this problem.” Aside from the fact that this isn’t just a porn problem, people are allowed to enjoy porn. Just not kiddie porn. Plus, people make mistakes, sometimes inadvertent, without any evil intent. Plus, people do stuff with evil intent, which they thereupon regret and seek to undo. Is it not societally beneficial for people who make a mistake to foster regret and the chance to make things right?
There is no "out." The government makes every investigation "foreseeable." The inadvertent discovery of illegal images doesn't take away this possibility. A lawyer can't (or shouldn't) encourage someone to break the law, but in cases like this, the only option is to mitigate the damage. The safest bet for anyone -- innocent or not -- is to destroy the evidence. But what sucks is that the innocent face charges for possessing something they never wanted and will often resort to destroying it in hopes of not being branded sexual offenders for the rest of their lives.

And it doesn't have to be child porn. It could be anything illegal. The government isn't here to help, much less not indulge in messenger-shooting. Case in point, the Iowa man who called the cops about a backpack he found containing drug paraphernalia. Just keeping it meant being in possession of illegal items. Throwing it out (which never occurred to the finder) would destroy evidence. And calling the cops did nothing more for him than turn his house into a meth lab in the eyes of the DEA. The police repaid his good deed by listing his house on the National Clandestine Laboratory Register. Being a good citizen meant virtual condemnation of his home because drug paraphernalia had been "found" on the premises.

In light of this, it would appear that the government prefers people destroy evidence of other people's crimes, rather than be upstanding citizens. That route leads to lighter sentences and less horrendous outcomes. Sure, we need laws in place to prevent the destruction of evidence, but more than that, we need to offer better protections for those who voluntarily hand over evidence of criminal activity. But there's nothing there to delineate between preserving evidence prior to contacting authorities and a possession charge. The government plays it safe and treats both equally, just to avoid the possibility of being duped by actual criminals.


Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    wereisjessicahyde (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:30am

    A: It's illegal for him to continue possessing the images. So you can't advise him to do nothing (and keep breaking the law).

    B: The smart thing for him to do would be to destroy the hard drive (if I could, I would recommend swisscheesing it with a drill press. But tampering with evidence is illegal under both Texas and federal law. Is it a crime to destroy the hard drive? To advise the client to do so?

    I go with C: Report it to the police as any decent person (given lawyers are rarely decent)would do when confronted with child porn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dan (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:44am

      Re:

      The lawyer can't report it--it was communicated in confidence, and it's illegal for the lawyer to break that confidence without the client's consent except in special circumstances which don't apply here. The client certainly could report it, but in so doing they're confessing to felony possession of child porn.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        wereisjessicahyde (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:27pm

        Re: Re:

        BS. Of course a lawyer can report a crime just as any other citizen can. Do you really mean a lawyer cannot report a crime without the criminal consent? What have you been smoking?

        It's so simple. The lawyer refuses to represent the paedophile and reports him to the police. Of course this situation presumes the lawyer is a functioning member of decent society.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Varsil, 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Lawyer here: If someone comes to you for legal advice, even if they haven't retained you, then solicitor-client confidentiality applies and you CANNOT report that crime. That's the entire point of solicitor-client confidentiality--to allow people to speak freely to their lawyer.

          Even if you refuse to represent the person in possession confidentiality and privilege applies to that knowledge. If the lawyer reports that information that lawyer will (and ought to) be sanctioned.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Lawyer here
            Where is “here”? What jurisdiction?

            solicitor-client... solicitor-client
            Some jurisdiction where “solicitor” is in common use?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Varsil, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Here" is Canada, though the principles apply in general to the U.S. Confidentiality/privilege are triggered early in the process.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Starke (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It applies in the US as well. You might be able to report a crime at the request of your client. But you can't report that your client committed a crime. That's kind of the point of attorney client privilege.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                But you can't report that your client committed a crime.
                You've been pressing your client for payment.

                He tells you, “Look, I'll get you the money. I got a friend to loan me a pistol, and I'll go hit the liquor store down on Third and Main tomorrow night. That'll net enough cash to bring my payments up to date.” You can't talk him out of it. He's a stand-up guy, and when he said he'd pay you your fee, you know he'll pay.

                You also know your client is an already-once-convicted felon, barred from possessing firearms.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 4:19pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I'll go hit the liquor store

                  Future crime - you can report it.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 4:31pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Future crime - you can report it.
                    And what about the pistol?

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 4:54pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      And what about the pistol?

                      What about it? Are you asking if the lawyer can report that? I think that even if the client said "I have this pistol that is illegal for me to own" the lawyer couldn't report that. But I don't know for sure. He could definitely report that his client is planning to rob a bank, so I don't see that reporting the pistol or not is all that important.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What have YOU been smoking? The lawyer cannot report this. It's privileged.

          And you're assuming an awful lot here. What if the person contacting the attorney wasn't the one who downloaded the images, but they discovered them a few months after buying a secondhand computer? What if a grieving mother whose 17 year old son died in a car accident discovers some naked selfies of his girlfriend while going through his phone? You want to live in a world where she CAN'T EVEN ASK FOR ADVICE in this situation?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:48am

      Re:

      Yeah, I somehow doubt that the cops can slam you if you report it as soon as you find it.

      It would be the same debate if a car rental place found a bag of crack in a car they were cleaning out. Possession is illegal (big enough bag and you can get slammed for "Intent to distribute"), but destruction of evidence is illegal to. But you can't get in trouble if you just drop everything and call the cops.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Starke (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:55am

        I wouldn't doubt the cops willingness to slam you for whatever they want. After all, they get to "take a dangerous sexual predator off the streets," the DA gets an easy win. What's not to love?

        And, while I don't know about finding a bag of crack in a rental car, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if a few cops have gone after easy "drug busts" that way.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        bureau13 (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re:

        I think the point of the reference to the Iowa case is that, while you SHOULDN'T get in trouble for simply reporting it, that doesn't mean you won't...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        bureau13 (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re:

        I think the point of the reference to the Iowa case is that, while you SHOULDN'T get in trouble for simply reporting it, that doesn't mean you won't...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        anon, 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re:

        "But you can't get in trouble if you just drop everything and call the cops."

        Unfortunately, Techdirt, as well as similar sites, are full of examples of just the opposite - innocent people getting in serious trouble for honestly reporting the discovery of contraband items.

        Which was kind of the point of the article.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          At all those who responded:

          Yes, I know that the word "cant" has become fluid over the years, but for the sake of this argument I'm assuming the cops will actually follow the law. The cops can't punish someone for reporting a crime they stumbled upon.

          Just like how the cops "can't" shoot you when not resisting arrest. Just because they can't doesn't mean they won't.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            On a technicality, Even so, they can still charge you if you report the child porn: possession of it is illegal. No exceptions are made based upon how it is obtained.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 10:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              That's why it's better to take it to the FBI in person and leave the local cops out of it.

              Or if you prefer to not talk with LE at all... pull the drive and destroy it then dump it (not in your own trash). If anyone comes asking questions play dumb and say it wasnt working so you threw it away.)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 11:42am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              How useful is that for the three letter agencies, if they can hack into your machine?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Rekrul, 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:29pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              On a technicality, Even so, they can still charge you if you report the child porn: possession of it is illegal. No exceptions are made based upon how it is obtained.

              And yet it's not illegal for law enforcement agencies to stockpile hundreds of CP images and videos under the guise of "evidence".

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:27pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                And yet it's not illegal for law enforcement agencies to stockpile hundreds of CP images and videos under the guise of "evidence".

                I once read some of the federal child pornography laws. Not only were all sorts of police, judges and prosecutors exempt, so were members of Congress. Yep, the Congress critters exempted themselves. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of kiddy porn stashes some of them had that they didn't want to give up.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:34pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Yep, the Congress critters exempted themselves. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of kiddy porn stashes some of them had that they didn't want to give up.

                  It's possible, but I would think more likely they realize it's possible to get burned by these laws for innocent things (photos of kids in the tub, etc.) and didn't want to deal with that. By exempting themselves, they get to "do something" about child porn without worrying about having to personally deal with the consequences of a bad law.

                  It seems like it should be unconstitutional for congress to exempt themselves from the effects of a law for exactly this reason. I wonder if the founding fathers didn't even consider the possibility of them doing something so nefarious and anti-democratic.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Starke (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 6:44pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Wasn't one burned for this today? As they were outed as having a stash of child porn, and ended up forfeiting their pension. Not getting arrested and prosecuted, because "lol congress," but still.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Rekrul, 4 Apr 2015 @ 6:08pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I once read some of the federal child pornography laws. Not only were all sorts of police, judges and prosecutors exempt, so were members of Congress. Yep, the Congress critters exempted themselves. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of kiddy porn stashes some of them had that they didn't want to give up.

                  I have a vague memory of an article from many years ago about a government report on child porn on the net. As I recall, the report was said to have included many images as examples of child porn. Supposed this report was entered into the public record, meaning that basically anyone could read a copy of this report and browse the CP images that were included.

                  Maybe I'm misremembering it, but my strongest memory is the article making the point that while those same images would be illegal for anyone to possess, they were included in an official report which became part of the public record and which was passed around to many member of congress and other officials.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Designerfx (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 10:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Aha, indeed. Just like how they "can't" label you a suspect for witnessing a crime.

            I think the answer is obvious: don't tell the feds anything unless you have evidence yourself and deal with it privately. Which is sad, because that supports Churches in this case taking precedence in making legal decisions.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Starke (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 10:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I used to have a friend who was overly fond of the phrase, "you can do anything you want until someone stops you."

            Unfortunately, the Law Enforcement community in the US has spent most of the last few decades saying, "no, honest, you can trust us, we won't abuse our power. We need it to do our jobs."

            They can do whatever they want. We wouldn't be seeing issues like the cop screaming at a cabbie in New York if he didn't honestly believe he could do it without repercussions.

            In a case like this, or the drug possession example above, you're just hoping that deep down, the cop you're dealing with is a nice guy and having a good day. Because if either of those aren't the case, they're empowered to wreck your life in a fit of pique.

            It's not about "can't" being a fluid term. It's not.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:20am

          Re: Re: Re: "full of examples of just the opposite"

          Sure, because sites like this cherry pick the data. Any given case may be injustice, but how many cases are there where calling the cops right away does work?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Dan (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 1:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "full of examples of just the opposite"

            How much of your freedom are you willing to bet that the responding officer(s) will be "reasonable" (for your definition of "reasonable")? Because you need to trust that their "reasonableness" will cause them to overlook the fact that you're committing a felony, and telling them that you're doing so, in the interest of finding the "real" criminal.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 5:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            out_of_the_blue has no idea what he's talking about.

            Only a psychopath and a moron would encourage gambling with innocent livelihoods like this.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            WysiWyg (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 1:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "full of examples of just the opposite"

            But the point was that you COULD get in serious trouble, not that it was a guarantee. Ergo, even just ONE example would be enough to prove that point.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Nigel (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:01am

        Re: Re:

        That is a quaint theory and only applicable in your parallel universe unfortunately.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re:

        "Yeah, I somehow doubt that the cops can slam you if you report it as soon as you find it."

        Sure they can.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:30pm

        Re: Re:

        I somehow doubt that the cops can slam you...
        The cops slam you up against the wall for jaywalking. Or the cops don't slam you for jaywalking. That's a minor ticket.

        You think a cop is going to cover for you by failing to report kiddie porn to the prosecutor?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 5:24pm

        Re: Re:

        don't have much real life experience, do you?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 10:36am

      Response to: wereisjessicahyde on Apr 3rd, 2015 @ 8:30am

      Bingo. You pull the drive and hand it to the FBI.
      Bang. No destruction no possession.
      But don't give it to local cops.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 10:55am

        Re: Response to: wereisjessicahyde on Apr 3rd, 2015 @ 8:30am

        You pull the drive and hand it to the FBI.

        What keeps the FBI from arresting you for possession of child porn? They know you possessed it after all.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          JEDIDIAH, 3 Apr 2015 @ 12:19pm

          Re: Response to: wereisjessicahyde on Apr 3rd, 2015 @ 8:30am

          What's the worst thing that can happen under any circumstances? A lawyer is going to tell you to avoid that. All of this "but you're breaking the law" stuff is nonsense. The real world isn't that ideal and lawyers have no problems dealing with it.

          Yank the drive and disassemble it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 12:40pm

            I'm pretty sure that the drive is still usable...

            You just may want to do a military-standard seven-pass data purge of it first.

            There are freeware programs available to do it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 9:17pm

          Re: Re: Response to: wereisjessicahyde on Apr 3rd, 2015 @ 8:30am

          Anonymous drop-off perhaps?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Response to: wereisjessicahyde on Apr 3rd, 2015 @ 8:30am

        You pull the drive and hand it to the FBI.
        The FBI then informs the assistant U.S. attorney.

        The AUSA then considers the policies established by DoJ, and by the local U.S. attorney. The AUSA evaluates whether scoring a easy kiddie porn conviction will help along his political career.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rekrul, 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:39pm

      Re:

      I go with C: Report it to the police as any decent person (given lawyers are rarely decent)would do when confronted with child porn.

      If you just pull out the hard drive and take it to the police/FBI, it will look suspicious. They'll wonder where it came from, why you removed it, etc.

      The proper thing to do is to take the entire computer. Of course then they will keep the computer. Which means you're out a computer and whatever money you paid for it, and they may still charge you with possession of child porn.

      I read about a drug case from several years ago. An elderly grandmother called the police several times and told them that her grandson was dealing drugs. They told her that there was nothing they could do unless they caught him in the act. When they finally did catch him, the DA started forfeiture proceedings against the woman's house since it had been used in illegal acts.

      The same thing happened more recently with a family-owned motel. They had called the police many times over the years to report illegal activity taking place at the motel and nothing much came of it. However, when the police ran a drug sting at the motel and caught a drug dealer red handed, they started forfeiture proceedings against the motel. It was eventually decided in the owner's favor, but not before he spent a small fortune in legal fees.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2015 @ 4:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Civil forfeiture. It's a great racket! If were a worse person, I'd join law enforcement so I could get in on it. Who doesn't love free stuff?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2015 @ 4:48pm

      Re:

      Did you read the article? Reporting it won't help bring anyone to justice. It'll just land you in prison and get you branded as a sex offender for the rest of your life. The best course of action is to cover your ass. There are situations where involving law enforcement will only make things worse, and this is one of them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alternatives(), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:35am

    You'd also have to assume the people in charge of enforcement care

    Because I tend to question if such is the case.

    There are too many laws for them to care about each one, based on the skating I've seen in Court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:45am

    In Oklahoma, if you are an IT person, this is a simple case. You are required under state law to contact law enforcement. Failure to do so can result in you being charged.

    I have found the best way to destroy a hard drive is to disassemble, and if the platters are aluminum, melt them, if they are glass, shatter them, repeatedly. If anyone asks, just tell them the drive failed and you were applying your normal identity theft prevention measures. Since most governments now mandate similar procedures on no longer needed drives, shouldn't be an issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Starke (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:57am

    Once again the advice: "don't talk to the police." Comes back as more and more useful. There is almost no situation where it can help you in any way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 8:59am

    Catch-22

    Yossarian would be amused!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:05am

    Isn't this the same thing as regards to Megaupload with the case against Ninja?

    Megaupload were told by the FBI to preserve 39 or so files that Ninja had in their account on Megaupload that they were investigating and that they (Megaupload) were told not to touch or delete those files as it would alert Ninja which Megaupload did as ordered and did not touch or delete those files. Now the case against Megaupload in the indictment is that they knew full well that the 39 files were infringing but they did nothing to delete those files and so they had full knowledge of infringement and that they facilitated the infringement by not deleting those 39 files?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:08am

    Remember the Julie Amero case

    It didn't even involve child porn -- just ordinary porn malware that showed up on a workplace computer thanks to incompetent and negligent IT personnel. The police and prosecutors persecuted, crucified, bullied and destroyed her life over NOTHING.

    So learn the lesson: DO NOT TALK TO POLICE. Destroy all the evidence instantly, don't tell anyone, don't even mention it anonymously, just make it go away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Violynne (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 7:35am

      Re: Remember the Julie Amero case

      I made this the first word because it's the best advice.

      Child pornography has turned into such a buzzword, even the MPAA loves it.

      That should be a terrifying reason why this two-word phrase is law enforcement's favorite tactic to destroy lives.

      Even worse than the MPAA's love of it is the idiotic definition of "child pornography" by both the general public and "news" media, which is so asinine, the girl once featured on the Coppertone products would have the company busted.

      For those who don't know of the logo, it featured a little girl whose bikini bottom was being pulled by a dog.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 11:27am

        Re: Re: Remember the Julie Amero case

        "For those who don't know of the logo, it featured a little girl whose bikini bottom was being pulled by a dog."

        Oh, you mean kiddy bestiality porn!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 4:38pm

      Re: Remember the Julie Amero case

      This is good general advice, not just for cases where you've encountered some kind of contraband. It depends on the specific issue, but generally speaking reporting things to the police will do no good (aside from perhaps satisfying an insurance requirement) and exposes you to the risk of becoming a target of the police.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:22am

    This is why...

    When I encounter porn on someone else's machine, I completely ignore it (I don't want to know what the content is!)

    If it's a machine in my possession (either given to me, or a machine I've loaned to someone), I nuke whatever illicit material I find. "Nuke" can mean different things - deleting the material and assuming it was perfectly legal is one tactic - but on machines that people give me, I usually just erase the disk, "dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda" style - I don't want to know what it was, I don't care - just get it clean and start fresh.

    Likewise, whenever someone gives me a laptop, I usually spend an hour cleaning it down with rubbing alcohol...lord knows what's on that keyboard.

    There are some things better left undiscovered - someone else's porn habits are one of those things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:47pm

      Re: This is why...

      Congratulations, you're now guilty of destroying evidence. It doesn't even matter if there actually WAS illegal material on those devices; you still hampered any investigation into WHETHER there was such material. To make it worse, by saying "This is why", you admitted that you recognize that there is a possibility of illegal material being present.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:36am

    There's honestly no right answer. It's the ultimate Catch-22. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:37am

    When President Bush ordered the destruction of pictures and videos of torture taking place under his command, in order to keep this "smoking gun" evidence out of the hands of federal prosecutors (who would soon no longer be calling him "boss" once he left office) -- there's no doubt that Bush, and everyone else down the chain of command, were breaking the law by having this evidence destroyed.

    But no one went to jail, no one was charged, no one was investigated, and the next president (elected on a platform of cracking down on this very sort of abuse) simply ignored the whole issue and did nothing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 11:55am

      Re:

      The next president had no actual intentions of cracking down on this sort of thing - it was just lip service to encourage people to vote for him. If anything, some of his actions have been even more questionable and egregious.

      In the grand scheme of things, we were lied to, and it seems presidents who lie face pretty much no penalty for doing so.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 10:08am

    that would explain the war on whistleblowers if the government hates it when people expose others crimes

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 12:33pm

    So here's my new idea for a techno-legal-thriller

    A crafty haxxor releases an infectious worm which fills up unused sectors of the hard drive with child pornography from hidden sources in the dark-net.

    Then after a certain amount of time, when a sufficient number of people have been running the payload, the worm undeletes all the child-porn.

    Chaos ensues.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 12:46pm

    Another issue to consider is that what is regarded as "child porn" varies from county to county.

    Here in California, your collection of manga isn't going to get you imprisoned if one of the stories features an explicit underaged love affair.

    In Kentucky, you might as well never purchase a Japanese import ever. Nor anything fanciful from Denmark or Sweden.

    Other states, it could vary from county to county, so even moving your data could change what laws apply. It gets pretty crazy. If I have a story about underaged teens getting it on, that could imprison me in some towns. If I add a framing layer to the story so that it's being told by one consenting adult to another (a la 1001 Arabian Nights), that makes it immune in some counties.

    Because we have issues about children and sex and nuclear issues about when you put them together.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Another issue to consider is that what is regarded as "child porn" varies from county to county.

      Remember when adult shops had paperback books? You know: no pictures, not even drawings; only written words. Once in a while there'd be one that had underage antics as part of it's 'plot'. Nobody noticed until law enforcement busted a shop and filed charges. Turns out some state and local laws prohibited "any depiction" of underage sex, including oral or written stories.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Vikarti Anatra (profile), 7 Apr 2015 @ 8:01pm

        Re: Re: Another issue to consider is that what is regarded as "child porn" varies from county to county.

        in modern world some fanfics describe situations there 13-14 y/o are described as having sex (without graphic descriptions, just stating fact that they are). access to those stories is not restricted in any way.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Apr 2015 @ 8:27pm

          Unrestricted fanfic about underaged sex

          Only because it's very difficult to enforce. It also varies from state to state, and in some states, from county to county.

          In can even get more complicated than that. In the seventies much of the literary porn featured underaged teenage sex (amongst many other taboos which were not approachable in other mediums). But one case was ruled that since there wasn't actual sex between minors, but one adult telling another adult about how she lost her virginity as an underaged teen, it was decided that anecdotes between adult characters were not considered child porn.

          And after that all literary porn about minors engaged in sexual acts would come coached in a framework of one adult telling it to another adult. Kinda like how for a while certain BDSM practices were legal only if they were on stage as performance art.

          Disturbingly, those regions where artistic depictions of eroticized children (e.g. lolicon) are still criminalized are the ones that have only until recently allowed children to be married (with parental consent), and for those children to engage in their marital duties.

          Because that is how messed up a nation we are.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 1:19pm

    The justice system is nothing but a lottery

    Sometimes you win the state's Powerball™ lottery. And sometimes you lose the state's Powerball™ lottery.

    That's the justice sytem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Paul Renault (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 1:57pm

    Two possible wrinkles or solutions?

    1) It's a shared computer, can you claim that the client doesn't really possess the computer?

    2) Advise your client to leave the country, renounce his/her citizenship, move somewhere with no extradition treaty. Consider this the equivalent accidentally witnessing a mob hit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 2:18pm

    The criminal justice system feeds...

    on human beings. And it's hungry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Varsil, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:00pm

    Legal ethics problems

    I'm one of those lawyer-beasts...

    The usual way a lawyer resolves the "I have come into possession of legally toxic material from a client":

    First, if at all possible, avoid this situation. Which is why when a client comes to drop something off my assistants have instructions to refuse to accept it and only let me deal with it (as I am better positioned to determine if it's legally toxic and to refuse to take it if it is).

    But, let's say that goes wrong and you end up with it anyway. "Legally toxic" can be any number of things: Could be a knife covered with a murder victim's blood, could be video evidence of your client stealing a car, could be a hard disk full of child porn.

    In my jurisdiction you're not allowed to just destroy that evidence. Nor can you just hold onto it and hide it (the client can, you as lawyer can't). Nor can you allow the police to find out how you came to have it.

    So the usual system is for the lawyer to hire another lawyer (who now is double-blinded from the client) to deliver it to the police anonymously and with no context.

    I've had to make one of these deliveries in the past (I was the articling student and got sent on a very crappy errand)--it's not a lot of fun dropping off a hard drive and going, "I have no knowledge of what this is, but here you go". The police at that point will try to grill you for details, and if you've been smart you have no details to give them.

    At that point it's up to the police to investigate it or not, as they see fit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:11pm

      Re: Legal ethics problems

      Could be a knife covered with a murder victim's blood, could be video evidence of your client stealing a car, could be a hard disk full of child porn.
      Suppose it's the client's operational plan to rob a bank next week?

      Or evidence regarding the wherabouts of a kidnapped child?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:21pm

        Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

        Suppose it's the client's operational plan to rob a bank next week?

        Lawyers can (maybe required to but I'm not sure) report future planned crimes.

        Or evidence regarding the wherabouts of a kidnapped child?

        I'm hoping there's some kind of exception for ongoing crimes too but I'm not sure. Maybe a lawyerbeast can answer.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:26pm

        Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

        Future crimes are exceptions to the privilege.

        But if both "My client intends to continue to possess this material, which is a future crime" and "My client intends to destroy this material, which is a future crime" would break the privilege, then privilege is a joke.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

          ...whereabouts of a kidnapped child...
          ... break the privilege, then privilege is a joke.
          Your client was in possession of a recent photo of a missing and exploited child.

          Law enforcement cannot locate this child. Law enforcement urgently wants to find this child—and stop the abuse.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 4:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

            Your client was in possession of a recent photo of a missing and exploited child.

            Law enforcement cannot locate this child. Law enforcement urgently wants to find this child—and stop the abuse.


            The double-lawyer trick should work.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 4:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

              The double-lawyer trick should work.
              Here's a subpoena, commanding lawyer #2 to testify before the grand jury.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 4:21pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                Here's a subpoena, commanding lawyer #2 to testify before the grand jury.

                Attorneys cannot be compelled to violate attorney-client privilege. That's the whole point of the privilege.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 4:36pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                  Attorneys cannot be compelled to violate attorney-client privilege.
                  That's a motion to quash? Or a refusal to appear when commanded? Or a refusal to answer specific questions propounded before the grand jury?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 4:52pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                    The subpoena would never be issued in the first place because everyone involved would know it couldn't stand up. What would happen if it actually were I don't know.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Starke (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 6:47pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                      If I'm remembering correctly, the final line would be to simply refuse to answer questions when asked. No one in their right mind would push it that far, and would be wasting everyone's time to get there. But... *shrugs*

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 6:53pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                        ... wasting everyone's time to get there...
                        It's a missing 20 month-old toddler.

                        Twenty months old. Just like the Lindbergh child. Only worse.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          Starke (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:32pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                          I was talking about: filing the subpoena, calling the lawyer to the stand, swearing them in, then asking them the question only to be told, "nope, not gonna' talk 'bout that. Attorney/client privilege."

                          The exceptions I can think of are cases where the attorney was actually an accomplice, or there was a third party present. But, those are some fairly rare circumstances.

                          I'm not seeing where the Lindbergh case comes in at all. Maybe I'm just tired. Sorry.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 9:39pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                            I'm not seeing where the Lindbergh case comes in at all.
                            I was merely remarking on the age of the missing toddler, as well the historical basis of the FBI's determination to locate this exploited child.

                            This missing child may still be alive somewhere.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          nasch (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 3:56am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                          It's a missing 20 month-old toddler.

                          And the second attorney has already handed law enforcement all the relevant evidence that the first attorney had access to.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 10:04am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                            It's a missing 20 month-old toddler.
                            And the second attorney has already handed law enforcement all the relevant evidence...
                            Should the second attorney be worried about his own liability as an accomplice, then the government is willing to extend full immunity to the second attorney for his answers to specific questions before the grand jury.

                            Suppose the second attorney had handed over one of the toddler's severed arms or legs—is that really any different than the photo of the missing child?

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                            • icon
                              nasch (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 10:22am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                              Should the second attorney be worried about his own liability as an accomplice, then the government is willing to extend full immunity to the second attorney for his answers to specific questions before the grand jury.

                              I'm pretty certain immunity doesn't absolve the attorney of his privilege obligations. The privilege is not about protecting the attorney from prosecution, it's about protecting the client.

                              Suppose the second attorney had handed over one of the toddler's severed arms or legs—is that really any different than the photo of the missing child?

                              No, I don't think that would be any different. An attorney cannot disclose evidence of a crime that his client has given to him, whether verbally or otherwise. Hopefully an attorney will correct me if I'm missing something because I only have a layman's understanding.

                              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 10:32am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                An attorney cannot disclose evidence of a crime that his client has given to him, whether verbally or otherwise.
                                I guess it's more traditional for a kidnapper to start by delivering smaller items: Severed fingers or toes—then work up to severing arms or legs.

                                You already admitted that the attorney-client privilege does not extend to impending crimes.

                                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                • icon
                                  nasch (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 11:46am

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                  This is getting awfully hypothetical. Have you ever heard of a kidnapper retaining the services of an attorney while still holding a victim?

                                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                  • identicon
                                    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 12:11pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                    Have you ever heard of a kidnapper retaining the services of an attorney while still holding a victim?
                                    The mob lawyer in a cheap pinstripe is a Hollywood stereotype! Has been for years.

                                    The second lawyer dropped off a photo of a missing 20 month-old child. The grand jury is entitled to get answers as to exactly how that attorney came into possession of that photo. Complete answers. Who gave it to him? How much was he paid? How was he paid?

                                    The government needs to find that child. To stop further abuse.

                                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                    • icon
                                      nasch (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 12:21pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                      The second lawyer dropped off a photo of a missing 20 month-old child. The grand jury is entitled to get answers as to exactly how that attorney came into possession of that photo.

                                      If I understand it correctly, attorney-client privilege says otherwise.

                                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                      • identicon
                                        Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 1:28pm

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                        If I understand it correctly, attorney-client privilege says otherwise.
                                        So after dropping off the photo, the next item the lawyer drops off is the child's toe.

                                        Doesn't the government have a compelling interest? The privilege must yield.

                                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                        • icon
                                          That One Guy (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 2:21pm

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                          The phrase you're looking for is 'slippery slope'.

                                          Sure forcing the lawyer to violate attorney/client privilege might allow them to solve the case, but if that's all it takes to break it, then there's no point in even having attorney/client privilege. If all it takes is the police believing that a crime might be solved, even if it's particularly nasty one, and that's all it takes to suspend or throw out a given law, then the law becomes meaningless.

                                          That logic, that of 'compelling interests trump legal safeguards/laws', is exactly what the NSA, CIA, FBI and others have used to trample over the laws and rights of the people, because once you go down that road, it is beyond easy to find 'extreme cases' to justify throwing the laws out the window, despite the fact that that's when they are most important to be upheld.

                                          And once you've done so for an extreme case, it's only a matter of time until you do so for a case that might not be quite as bad. And then a little while later, you do so again, and again, and again, until the law or safeguard has been shot so full of 'exceptions' that it's nothing more than useless words.

                                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                          • icon
                                            Uriel-238 (profile), 10 Apr 2015 @ 2:56am

                                            'compelling interests trump legal safeguards/laws'

                                            You know what that reminds me of?

                                            The Jack Bauer ticking-time-bomb scenario.

                                            At what point is it acceptable to torture someone? To stop the ticking time bomb? To rescue the Lindbergh baby? What if the time bomb was a 2.1 megaton nuke?

                                            It seems that in any case the answer isn't never, the goal posts easily slide forward.

                                            It's the logic by which the United States came to have an active torture program today.

                                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                            • icon
                                              nasch (profile), 10 Apr 2015 @ 6:27am

                                              Re: 'compelling interests trump legal safeguards/laws'

                                              At what point is it acceptable to torture someone? To stop the ticking time bomb? To rescue the Lindbergh baby? What if the time bomb was a 2.1 megaton nuke?

                                              The problem is we will never know the person has the information we want, we will only think he does. I don't think there is a good solution, but there has to be something better than routine torture.

                                              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                        • icon
                                          nasch (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 2:24pm

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                          Besides what That One Guy said, which is excellent, there is also the possibility that the attorney will actually have knowledge or suspicion about a future crime. For example, after he gets a toe with a letter indicating another toe is coming next, now he can turn that client in for planning to commit a crime.

                                          As I said, I don't know if there are exceptions to the privilege for ongoing crimes. Someone with more knowledge than I might weigh in, but this has gotten so far into the weeds I kind of doubt it. :-)

                                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                          • icon
                                            The Groove Tiger (profile), 6 Apr 2015 @ 12:35pm

                                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                            I think I get what AC is getting at with all those posts. I don't think he's asking a legal question, but a biology one.

                                            No, AC, you can't assemble back the child after you've received all the parts.

                                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                    • identicon
                                      Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 6:28pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Legal ethics problems

                                      The government needs to find that child. To stop further abuse.

                                      The government needs to stop criminal activity in all cases, whether it involves children or not! The privilege must be abolished! amirite?

                                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:22pm

      Re: Legal ethics problems

      So the usual system is for the lawyer to hire another lawyer (who now is double-blinded from the client) to deliver it to the police anonymously and with no context.

      So lawyer 1 is lawyer 2's client, and thus protected by attorney-client privilege, so lawyer 2 cannot say anything to the police? Clever.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2015 @ 3:59pm

    The lawyer did what?

    You lost me at "Philip Russell does the only reasonable thing possible." He's the lawyer. for Chrissake! It's not his job to "do" anything, it's his job to advise his client. Personally destroying evidence was dumb, dumb, dumb.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 5:04am

    "sicken any normal human being"

    I think it's time we stop applying "false dilemma" or "black-or-white" to the crime of child porn. Some child porn, obviously, does qualify as "sickening any normal human being" (for a somewhat narrowed definition of "normal" --- are blind people "abnormal"?). Other child porn, where, for example, the participants are one day younger than the legal limit, would seem to be, for all practical purposes, identical to legal porn from a sensory point of view. And other porn, where the participants are above the legal limit but are mentally disabled and incapable of informed consent, is obviously ethically as repugnant as child porn, yet certainly indistinguishable from legal porn.

    "I know it when I see it" while being rather down-to-earth from a judicial point of view, is also simply wrong from a factual point of view.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2015 @ 8:22am

    At what point does destroying evidence actually become destroying evidence?

    For example, say I actually had child pornography, then deleted it. Then five years later the police kick down my door.

    Or does it only classify if I deleted it the time they were breaking down the door?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Starke (profile), 4 Apr 2015 @ 10:04am

      Re:

      That's kind of the point in the article. Federal Law creates a wonderful catch 22, because you know the child porn will provoke an investigation, therefore you know it's evidence, even if you don't know of an active investigation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2015 @ 10:02am

    What Do You Do When Preserving Evidence Is Labeled 'Possession' And Destroying It Is A Felony?
    You call Mr. Kafka to write a novel about just such a scenario.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2015 @ 1:18pm

    ... you can't assemble back the child after you've received all the parts.
    You seem to be suggesting that there is a bright line between dropping off the photo and dropping off a toe.

    The second lawyer drops off the child's toe—then judge orders the second lawyer to answer the grand jury's questions. But if the second lawyer only drops off the photo of the missing child, then the judge should not issue the order to compel testimony. In your opinion.

    Is that what you're saying?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 7 Apr 2015 @ 2:45pm

    i'm bored

    101st!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.