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USA v Cheever

7-18-2016 Colorado:

USA v Cheever

JOHN L. KANE, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before me for sentencing on Defendant Shawn Cheever's plea to a single count of possession of child pornography. I have heard the presentations of counsel, and Mr. Cheever has been afforded his right of allocution. Because the question of a condign sentence in this case, and in cases involving plea deals negotiated in rigid adherence to non-binding Sentencing Guidelines generally, raises sentencing issues about which I have thought long and hard, I take time to address them in the following written opinion.

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It is argued at various places in the vast literature on this subject I have reviewed that the value of the plethysmograph is not to condemn or to judge, but rather to facilitate the evaluation and therapy undertaken by nudging the subject along to admit his defect of character — a sort of plaintive admonition that confession is good for the soul and overcomes the resistance to therapy that is manifested in denial. Such admission is regarded as one of the first steps toward a rehabilitative state of refrain and abstinence. Perhaps it should be considered a shortcut in therapy. (One can only surmise that a relapse after treatment would exacerbate the perversion because it occurs in spite of the therapy generated by the conscious admission.)

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in United States v. McLaurin, 731 F.3d 258, 260 (2013) that a condition of defendant's supervised release that required him to take penile plethysmograph testing was an "extraordinary invasive condition [that is] unjustified, is not reasonable related to the statutory goals of sentencing, and violates McLaurin's right to substantive due process."

The special condition requiring Cheever to submit to plethysmograph testing is specifically rejected. So, too, until such time as I am presented by the government with proof that the polygraph and the visual reaction time measurement device will meet the goals of supervised release as applied to a particular defendant, that such testing will involve no greater deprivation of liberty than is necessary for the particularized supervised release of an individual defendant and that there are no alternative measures, techniques or devices available that are any less intrusive to freedom of thought, they, too, are rejected.

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