Court Affirms High School Coach's Child Porn Sentence - U.S. Second Circuit
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Court Affirms High School Coach's Child Porn Sentence

It looks like Todd J. Broxmeyer's legal luck ran out in 2010.

In 2008, a jury found the former high school field hockey coach guilty of producing child pornography and transporting a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, among other crimes. The victims in the case were teenage girls who Broxmeyer coached.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed three of Broxmeyer's convictions in 2010, but upheld his 30-year sentence for attempting to produce child pornography this week.

Broxmeyer's wins in 2010 were based on insufficient evidence and improper charging. First, the Second Circuit ruled that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Broxmeyer persuaded, induced, or enticed a victim to take the photos at issue in the two counts of producing child pornography.

Second, the court found that the jury improperly convicted Broxmeyer on a charge of transporting a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity because he had already engaged in sodomy with his 15-year-old victim before he crossed a state border.

The appellate court vacated Todd Broxmeyer's original 40-year prison sentence, and remanded the case for resentencing on the remaining two counts for possession and attempted production of child pornography. He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 30 years for the production charge and 10 years for possession.

Broxmeyer appealed again, arguing that his sentencing was plagued by various procedural errors and that 30 years' incarceration is substantively unreasonable. (According to Broxmeyer, any sentence higher than the minimum 15-year prison term mandated for attempted child pornography production would be substantively unreasonable.)

This time, the Second Circuit upheld the conviction in a split-panel decision.

Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs actually agreed with Broxmeyer, and maintained in his dissent that the 30-year child porn sentence unfairly reached beyond "the offense of conviction," which "amounts to a single act of attempted sexting."

The majority, however, concluded that stance was wrong as a matter of law.

While a district court cannot sentence a defendant to more severe punishment than that prescribed for the crimes of conviction, "no limitation shall be placed on the information concerning the background, character, and conduct of a person convicted of an offense which a court of the United States may receive and consider for the purpose of imposing an appropriate sentence" within the prescribed range.

The majority did not mince words in criticizing Judge Jacobs' dissent, so take a look if you enjoy intra-court bickering. Otherwise, just remember that a court can look at your client's background, character, and conduct when sentencing him. So if there's enough evidence for a court to conclude that your guilty-as-charged client is despicable and unapologetic, he could be going away for the maximum allowed sentence under the guidelines.

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