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Court allows porn disks as evidence
Associated Press
Last Updated: July 19, 2001
Madison - Images of child pornography created from computer disks
can be allowed at the trial of a man charged with breaking the
state's child pornography law, the state appeals court ruled

The law states it is a felony to own "any undeveloped film,
photographic negative, photograph, motion picture, videotape or
other pictorial reproduction or audio recording of a child engaged in
sexually explicit conduct."

The law applies to people who knowingly possess pornographic
images of children under 18.

The 4th District Court of Appeals panel said the images of children,
labeled "juveniles," that were created from disks allegedly owned by
James W. Whistleman, 55, of La Crosse should be allowed at trial
because computer disks qualify as "other pictorial reproduction."

Whistleman argued the images should be suppressed, since
computer disks themselves are not "pictorial reproductions" since
one cannot see the images of the children by looking at the disks,
and that the disks store data, not pictures of children.

The appeals court rejected those arguments.

"One cannot see a visual image by looking at a videotape: the tape
must be inserted into a VCR in order to produce a visual image on
the screen," Judge Margaret Vegeront wrote for the court.

"A videotape also stores the data necessary to create a visual image
rather than the visual image itself, similar to the way Whistleman
describes a computer disk functioning."

The appeals court overturned the decision of the La Crosse County
Circuit Court, which decided to suppress the pictures because the
law does not explicitly include computer disks.

If convicted, Whistleman would face a maximum penalty of five years
in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 20, 2001

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