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New York Child Porn Ruling

New York Child Porn Ruling

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Published by Alex Fitzpatrick

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Published by: Alex Fitzpatrick on May 09, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/10/2013

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=================================================================This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision beforepublication in the New York Reports.-----------------------------------------------------------------No. 70The People &c.,Respondent,v.James D. Kent,Appellant.Nathan Z. Dershowitz, for appellant.Bridget Rahilly Steller, for respondent.CIPARICK, J.:The question presented for our review is whether theevidence proffered at defendant's trial was legally sufficient tosupport his convictions for Promoting a Sexual Performance by aChild (Penal Law § 263.15) and Possessing a Sexual Performance bya Child (Penal Law § 263.16). We must consider, among other- 1 -
 
- 2 -No. 70issues, the evidentiary significance of "cache files," ortemporary internet files automatically created and stored on adefendant's hard drive, and the defendant's awareness of thepresence of such files. We conclude that where the evidencefails to show that defendant had such awareness, the People havenot met their burden of demonstrating defendant's knowingprocurement or possession of those files. We further concludethat merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not,absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurementwithin the meaning of our Penal Law.I.The following evidence was adduced at defendant'strial. On May 26, 2005, defendant James D. Kent, a professor ofpublic administration at a Dutchess County college, received anew office computer through a campus-wide technology upgrade.The files stored on the hard drive of the old computer weretransferred to the new computer. On April 5, 2007, a studentemployee of the college's information technology (IT) departmentwent to defendant's office in response to his complaints that hiscomputer was malfunctioning. While running a virus scan of thecomputer's hard drive, the employee discovered a work foldercontaining numerous ".jpg" or picture files, displayed as"thumbnails," of scantily clad, prepubescent girls in provocativeposes. When the virus scan failed to correct the computer'sunresponsiveness, the employee removed defendant's hard drive and- 2 -
 
- 3 -No. 70took it back to the IT office, where supervisors learned of theimages. College administrators informed defendant that theseimages had been found on his computer, but defendant denied anyknowledge of them. Approximately two weeks later, the collegesubmitted defendant's hard drive to the Town of PoughkeepsiePolice Department with a "Consent to Search" form signed by acollege administrator.Barry Friedman, an investigator in the computerforensic lab of the New York State Police, conducted a forensicanalysis of defendant's hard drive using EnCase Software(EnCase). Investigator Friedman explained that EnCase searchesboth allocated space, which contains data (including saved itemsor items sent to the "recycling bin") that is readily accessibleto a user, and unallocated space, which contains material deletedfrom the allocated space and is inaccessible to a user.Defendant's computer contained Real Player, a downloadable mediaprogram used to play videos and music that maintains a "play"history. The computer also had two internet browsers: InternetExplorer and Mozilla Firefox. In addition to the default profileprovided by Mozilla Firefox, a second profile under the name of"Jim" had been created.The allocated space under the Jim profile on MozillaFirefox contained a temporary internet file known as a Web"cache." A cache contains images or portions of a Web page thatare automatically stored when that page is visited and displayed- 3 -

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