14:53, January 07 204 0 abajournal.com

2020-01-07 14:53:04
Lawyer who created digital child porn to make a legal point can’t escape $300K judgment, court rules

Judge with gavel on table

Image from Shutterstock.com.

An Ohio lawyer and expert witness who created digital child pornography in defense of his clients can’t escape a $300,000 civil judgment in bankruptcy, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati ruled against the lawyer, Dean Boland, in a Jan. 3 opinion by Senior U.S. Circuit Judge David McKeague. The opinion upheld a February 2019 decision by the appeals court’s bankruptcy appellate panel.

Boland was an expert witness for Oklahoma and Ohio defendants accused of possessing child pornography when he digitally manipulated “innocuous stock photographs” of two children to show them engaging in sex acts.

The 6th Circuit explains the reason this way: “If Boland could whip up doctored pornography this easily, the argument went, then it’s possible the pornography his clients downloaded was doctored, too. In essence, the defense was that there’s just no way of knowing whether real children are depicted in pornography found on the internet.”

When Boland used the exhibits in an Oklahoma federal court, prosecutors accused him of creating illegal child pornography. He nonetheless continued to use the exhibits in testimony in Ohio courtrooms.

Ohio federal prosecutors “caught up with Boland,” the appeals court said. He admitted violating federal law in a pretrial diversion agreement. The prosecutors notified the children’s parents, who sued and each won a $150,000 judgment against Boland.

Boland filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But the $300,000 judgment could not be discharged under an exception for debt resulting from “willful and malicious injury” by the debtor, the 6th Circuit said.

“Because Boland knew his morphed pornography depicted real minors yet kept using it in court, he willfully and maliciously injured” the minors, the appeals court said.

“In knowingly morphing images of real minors into child pornography and displaying them in court, Boland must have been substantially certain that he would injure those minors—even if the morphing was for educational purposes.”

Past news coverage says Boland is now using the name Jack Boland. His lawyer status is listed as inactive. He did not return a call to the number listed in the Ohio Supreme Court’s attorney directory.

Hat tip to Law360, which covered the opinion.