Friday, July 18, 2003

Guilty plea dismissed in obscenity case

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - A state appeals court on Thursday dismissed the guilty plea of a man imprisoned for writing fictitious stories of child torture and molestation.

Lawyers specializing in the First Amendment believe Brian Dalton was the first person in the United States successfully prosecuted for child pornography that involved writings, not images.

The 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals in Columbus ruled 3-0 to send the case of Dalton back to Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The appeals court ruled that Dalton received ineffective legal assistance at trial. Dalton had argued that his former trial lawyer didn't inform him of the legal implications of a guilty plea or ask for an immediate dismissal on First Amendment grounds.

Dalton, 24, of Columbus, pleaded guilty in July 2001 to pandering obscenity involving a minor, which falls under Ohio's pornography law. He later asked to withdraw the plea to fight the constitutionality of the law, but Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Nodine Miller refused. ACLU attorneys appealed.

Miller sentenced Dalton to seven years, plus 11/2 years from a 1998 child pornography conviction because he violated probation by possessing the journal.

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