John Balazs is an attorney in Sacramento, California, specializing in criminal defense, including appeals, habeas corpus, pardons, expungements, and civil forfeiture actions. After graduating from UCLA Law School in 1989, he clerked for Judge Harry Pregerson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. John was an Assistant Federal Defender in Fresno and Sacramento from 1992-2001. He currently serves as an adjunct professor in clinical trial advocacy at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Please email EDCA items of interest to Balazslaw@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @balazslaw.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. The law can change rapidly and information in this blog can become outdated. Do your own research or consult with an attorney.
Former Anderson Police officer Bryan Robert Benson pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to a civil rights offense for sexually assaulting a woman while transporting her to jail, according to a press release issued by the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California.
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Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 15. Benson and the government agreed in the plea agreement that the Court should sentence Benson to five years in prison.
A 24-year-old Sacramento man who acted as a pimp for a 16-year-old runaway girl is headed to prison.
U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez today sentenced Justin Isaac Jackson to 11 years and four months in prison for sex trafficking [actually 11 years, 3 months, if my count is correct], according to a federal Department of Justice news release.
A federal jury deliberated less than an hour Friday before convicting a Fresno man of pimping a 13-year-old girl.
It was a fast ending to a bizarre case in which defendant Maurice Dwayne Hunt, who was representing himself in U.S. District Court, showed up on the last day of his trial in a wheelchair and wearing only underwear.
After court security staff draped clothing over Hunt, he was soon kicked out of court for making two outbursts in front of the jury.
Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill said Hunt was trying to manipulate the court proceedings and it was Hunt's decision not to make a closing statement to the jury.
The jury found him guilty of six felony charges of sex trafficking of a minor, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
That's Prof. Berman's description of the U.S. Sentencing Commission's new report (available here) on sentencing under the current child pornography guidelines:
I think the US Sentencing Commission's new report on federal child pornography sentencing (basics here), provides a unique opportunity to give the [reasonableness] review standard some real meaning. I come to this conclusion after seeing this key passage (from p. xviii) in the executive summary of the new report:
The current sentencing scheme in §2G2.2 places a disproportionate emphasis on outdated measures of culpability regarding offenders’ collecting behavior and insufficient emphases on offenders’ community involvement and sexual dangerousness. As a result, penalty ranges are too severe for some offenders and too lenient for other offenders. The guideline thus should be revised to more fully account for these three factors and thereby provide for more proportionate punishments.
In short, the US Sentencing Commission is saying that the current federal guidelines for child pornography are broken because they give too much significance to some offense factors and too little to others, and thus guideline-calculated ranges for child porn offenses are "too severe for some offenders and too lenient for other offenders." Put even more directly, the USSC is here declaring that the existing child porn guidelines are not a reasonable means to ensure just, effective and proportionate punishment.
The information [of a Stockton brothel] led the detectives, joined by FBI agents, into a long and winding investigation that culminated Friday in the arraignment of three people accused of operating five brothels – including one in Sacramento – using young, undocumented Latinas as prostitutes.
What is called a "human trafficking organization" operated brothels in Fairfield, Chico and Yuba City in addition to the ones in Sacramento and Stockton, court papers say.
Former Anderson police officer Bryan Robert Benson, 28, was arrested today at the Shasta County probation office after being indicted in connection with a 2010 sexual assault case, it was announced this afternoon.
The federal indictment, which was unsealed after his arrest, charges Benson with a federal civil rights offense in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a woman he had placed under arrest on May 29, 2010.
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Benson pleaded no contest in Shasta County Superior Court to assault by a police officer and engaging in a lewd act.
A plea to state criminal charges, however, does not preclude the federal government from prosecuting Benson for the same conduct, the spokeswoman said.
After an investigation of the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office sought and obtained approval from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute Benson for violations of federal criminal law, the spokeswoman said.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday in Sacramento.