Illegal Search Gets Evidence Tossed in Judge Porn Case

Print

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-kline29oct29,1,7573408.story?coll=la-headlines-california

On the surface, the People vs. Ronald Kline seemed like a sure thing for prosecutors, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Federal authorities had child pornography and a sexually explicit diary obtained from the former Orange County judge’s computers. State officials had the testimony of a man who said Kline had molested him as a boy.

Now, barring a successful appeal, Kline, who is still under house arrest, will soon be free – not because the allegations were proved false but because of unrelated civil rights concerns that undercut both cases against him.

To some legal experts, there is a moral to the story: The system worked.

He did not get off on a technicality,” said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor who has followed the case. “He got off on the enforcement of his constitutional rights. He got lucky.”

On Monday, a federal judge threw out the key evidence in the child pornography case, ruling that images found on Kline’s courthouse computer were the “fruit” of an earlier illegal search of his home computer by a Canadian hacker who saw himself as working for police.

In July, a state Superior Court judge threw out the child molestation charges against Kline after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a California law that allowed prosecution of old sex abuse cases. The state cannot “pick and choose when to act retroactively,” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer for the majority.

Both rulings, experts say, highlight the fluidity of a legal system that is designed to ensure that the rights of the accused are upheld – even if that means some perpetrators get away.

Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-kline29oct29,1,7573408.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Comments are closed.