For a second time, one-day sentence in child-porn case is overturned

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A federal appeals court has once again reversed a one-day sentence for possession of child pornography, but this time the resentencing will be handled by a different judge.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday in the case of Rufus Robinson, convicted for possessing more than 7,000 images of child pornography. How Appealing noted the decision (PDF), while the Associated Press and WWJ have stories.

“We are dismayed to discover that the district court did not heed our instructions” on resentencing, the appeals court said.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow had imposed both sentences. The first time, Tarnow sentenced Robinson to one day in prison and five years of supervised release. The second time, Tarnow sentenced Robinson to one day in prison, lengthened the period of supervised release to 10 years, and imposed additional conditions of release.

At the resentencing, Tarnow relied on mitigating evidence that Robinson had significant mental illness that was previously undiagnosed. Robinson had tried to commit suicide three times after his conviction.

The appeals court said Tarnow failed to take into account the seriousness of Robinson’s crime, failed to consider the need for deterrence and failed to analyze the need to reduce sentencing disparities.

Images on Robinson’s computers “included depictions of appalling abuse of children, including child bondage and torture, and the rape of children and infants,” the appeals court said.

The court ordered the case reassigned to a new judge, though prosecutors had not requested it. “The district court here has made plain that it would consider it ‘pandering’ to this court to impose a sentence of confinement, and it has now twice refused to confront the gravity of defendant’s conduct,” the court said. “We are not confident that it will be able to put its previously expressed views aside in approaching the task of resentencing defendant.”

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