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United States v. Anson

January 10, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DONALD ANSON, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

The defendant was charged in a second Superceding Indictment, filed by a Federal grand jury on August 16, 2005, with forty-three counts relating to transporting, receiving, and possessing child pornography. On May 2, 2006, after a jury trial, the defendant was found guilty of Counts One through Forty, Count Forty-two, and Count Forty-three. This matter is now before the Court on the defendant's motion, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 (c), for a judgment of acquittal on all counts. For the reasons stated below, the defendant's application is denied in all respects.

STANDARD OF LAW

In reviewing an acquittal by the district court following a jury verdict of guilty, we ask "whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). In this regard, the defendant who is challenging the sufficiency of the evidence "bears a heavy burden." United States v. Si Lu Tian, 339 F.3d 143, 150 (2d Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted). "[A] court may enter a judgment of acquittal only if the evidence that the defendant committed the crime alleged is nonexistent or so meager that no reasonable jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." United States v. Guadagna, 183 F.3d 122, 130 (2d Cir.1999) (internal quotation marks omitted).

In applying these principles, it is the court's duty to "review all of the evidence presented at trial in the light most favorable to the government, crediting every inference that the jury might have drawn in favor of the government." United States v. Walker, 191 F.3d 326, 333 (2d Cir.1999) (internal quotation marks omitted). It is irrelevant that the judge conducting such a review personally feels that he or she would not have found guilt upon such evidence. The conviction must be sustained if "any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Guadagna, 183 F.3d at 130. "The government's case need not exclude every possible hypothesis of innocence . . . ." United States v. Martinez, 54 F.3d 1040, 1043 (2d Cir.1995) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, where "either of the two results, a reasonable doubt or no reasonable doubt, is fairly possible, [the court] must let the jury decide the matter." United States v. Autuori, 212 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted; alteration in original). Furthermore, "courts must be careful to avoid usurping the role of the jury when confronted with a motion for acquittal." United States v. Jackson, 335 F.3d 170, 180 (2d Cir. 2003). It is settled that "Rule 29(c) does not provide the trial court with an opportunity to substitute its own determination of . . . the weight of the evidence and the reasonable inferences to be drawn for that of the jury." Guadagna, 183 F.3d at 129 (internal quotation marks omitted; alteration in original).

United States v. Espaillet, 380 F.3d 713, 718 (2d Cir. 2004).

ANALYSIS

The first two counts of the second Superceding Indictment accused the defendant of transporting child pornography in interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(1). As the Court explained to the jury, in order to find the defendant guilty of transporting child pornography, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following two elements:

First, that on or about the date alleged in the count, August 23, 2003 as to Count One and September 17, 2003 as to Count two, the defendant knowingly transported a visual depiction in interstate or foreign commerce.

Second, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child pornography was actually transported in interstate or foreign commerce by means of a computer

As to counts one and two, at trial the government introduced the following evidence: ! That Online Sharing Community ("OSC") was a subscription-based website hosted in Tampa, Florida that allowed members to share child pornography and post messages,and where members could upload, view and download images.

! That on December 30, 2003, a search warrant was executed on Sago Networks, a Tampa, Florida web hosting company, for the content and log records associated with OSC.

! That after the execution of the search warrant, a forensic examination was conducted by James Fottrell, the manager of the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division's ...


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