United States v. Wellman, No. 10-4689
Decided: Dec. 7, 2011
John Wellman was convicted of three offenses related to his possession of child pornography. He challenges his conviction on the grounds that the search warrant that led to his arrest was invalid, that a jury instruction was erroneous because it lacked a knowledge requirement, and that his sentence was imposed in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Wellman’s convictions and sentences. The court declined to impose a requirement that a search warrant application involving child pornography include an image of the alleged pornography. Furthermore, the jury instruction was not erroneous for failure to include a knowledge requirement because the jury was not required to find that Wellman knew that the images at issue were obscene. Finally, the court held that the ten-year sentence did not constitute a de facto life sentence given Wellman’s age of 68 years and was not a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
-Sara I. Salehi