Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Laursen

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

January 30, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Michael Thorvald Laursen, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted April 6, 2016 Seattle, Washington

         Appeal from the United States District Court No. 3:13-cr-05634-RJB-1 for the Western District of Washington Robert J. Bryan, Senior District Judge, Presiding

          Lynn C. Hartfield (argued), Law Office of Lynn C. Hartfield LLC, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Helen J. Brunner (argued), First Assistant United States Attorney; Annette L. Hayes, United States Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Seattle, Washington; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: Michael Daly Hawkins, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, and Consuelo M. Callahan, Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY[*]

         Criminal Law

         The panel affirmed convictions for production and possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2251(a) and 2252A.

         The panel held that the government sufficiently established that the defendant, a 45-year-old man, "used" J.B., a 16-year-old girl, to produce sexually explicit images, as required for a conviction under § 2251(a). The panel wrote that the defendant's theory that he was not the man depicted in the photographs was unconvincing.

         The panel rejected the defendant's contentions that §§ 2251 and 2252A are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, violate the Tenth Amendment, and exceed Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. The panel specifically rejected the defendant's argument that the legality of his relationship with a 16-year-old under Washington state law precluded prosecution under federal law.

         The panel held that the district court's evidentiary rulings were sound.

         Judge Hawkins concurred. To prevent the statute from being overbroad and unconstitutionally vague, he would require the government to show some taking unfair advantage of the minor to establish "uses" under the statute, but wrote that there were sufficient indicia in this case of a coercive or exploitative element to satisfy the more narrow definition he proposes.

          OPINION

          RAWLINSON, Circuit Judge.

         In this appeal we address whether taking consensual nude "selfies"[1] involving a forty-five-year-old man and a sixteen-year-old girl is sufficient to support a conviction for production and possession of child pornography. We conclude that this evidence was sufficient to support the conviction, and we specifically reject the argument made by defendant Michael Thorval Laursen (Laursen) that the legality of his sexual relationship with a sixteen-year-old under Washington state law precluded prosecution under federal law.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Investigation of Sexual Abuse and Laursen's Arrest

         In July, 2012, Laursen reported to police that a sixteen-year-old girl, referred to in this opinion as J.B., was being prostituted by her uncles. At the time, J.B. lived with her adoptive father Art Brown. Laursen and J.B. were involved in a consensual sexual relationship, but neither of the two apprised detectives of that fact.

         As part of the investigation into the sexual abuse of J.B., Detective Rodriguez met with Art Brown, J.B.'s adoptive father, who produced J.B.'s laptop, cell phone, and cell phone records. A forensic examination of J.B.'s laptop revealed "sexually explicit images" of J.B. and Laursen.

         Seven months later, Laursen's sister Maureen Gonzales contacted Detective Rodriguez after finding a digital camera in her kitchen that belonged to Laursen. The digital camera's memory card contained sexually explicit photos of J.B. Maureen gave police the digital camera and Laursen's laptop. Maureen acknowledged that Laursen was incarcerated when she gave detectives the digital camera. Detective Rodriguez subsequently obtained a search warrant for the digital camera and for Laursen's laptop.

         A forensic examination of the camera's memory card revealed an array of photos. Nine pictures on the memory card contained nude images of J.B. Several non-sexual pictures were also on the memory card. The laptop did not contain sexually explicit photos.

         On February 21, 2013, detectives interviewed Laursen. Detectives informed Laursen that they knew about the nude photos he had taken with J.B. Laursen initially denied taking the nude photos, but later admitted that he took them. When detectives continued questioning Laursen, he asked detectives to stop recording. Laursen then inquired: "This is what this is about, the pictures we took? I can really get in trouble for the pictures I took with her?"

         The answer to Laursen's question was a definitive yes. Laursen was charged with one count of production of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2251(a) and (e). A subsequent indictment added possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(5)(B) and (b)(2). Laursen waived his right to a jury trial and proceeded to trial before a judge.

         B. The Bench Trial

         Prior to trial, the district court agreed with Laursen that federal jurisdiction in the case was predicated on "a pretty narrow nexus" because there was "no production of pictures over the Internet here, for example, to third parties or anything like that[.]" Nevertheless, the court ultimately determined that production of child pornography with a cell phone that traveled across state lines satisfied "the federal nexus under 2251 and 2252(a) (sic)."

         The Government's case against Laursen focused on two sets of photographs. The first set of photographs were found on the hard drive for J.B.'s Toshiba laptop. The second set of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.